Countries Seek Ways To Restore Work On Traditional Knowledge Protection At WIPO06/10/2015 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 2 CommentsShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Much of our best content is available only to IP Watch subscribers. We are a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now.The fate of the World Intellectual Property Organization committee dedicated to finding solutions to protect traditional knowledge, generic resources, and folklore is being actively discussed informally at the organisation’s general assembly. Last year, WIPO members found themselves unable to agree on the 2015 programme of work of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC). The committee is not a permanent standing committee and its mandate has to be renewed every two years.Several proposals have been put on the table to suggest ways out of the deadlock, ranging from making the committee permanent to suspending it. There is also a recent proposal from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC).The newly elected chair of the WIPO General Assembly, Gabriel Duque, appointed Ian Goss of Australia as facilitator for the informal discussions on the IGC. According to sources, Goss, who had the role of “friend of the IGC chair” and facilitator in the committee, has been leading informal consultations since before the start of the Assembly this week.The annual WIPO General Assemblies are taking place from 5-14 October.The IGC has had its mandate renewed six times, according to a WIPO source. It has therefore had seven mandates, including the initial one in the year 2000. Each mandate was not necessarily different – in some biennia, the mandate was simply extended, in others it was amended.Yesterday, Goss circulated a draft decision for the General Assembly, seen by IP-Watch, proposing that the mandate of the IGC be renewed. Most developing country members taking the floor for their opening statements yesterday, at the opening of the General Assembly, called for the renewal of the committee’s mandate.Goss presented the draft yesterday to regional coordinators to collect their initial reactions today and will be chairing further informal discussions with the view of issuing a second draft tomorrow, Duque told the plenary this morning.The draft decision from Goss states that the mandate of the committee be renewed. The document suggests that the IGC continue its work with a view of narrowing existing gaps, “with the objective of reaching an agreement on a text(s) of an international legal instrument(s) on intellectual property which will ensure the effective protection” of GRs, TK and TCEs.The draft decision proposes that the IGC submit text(s) developed during 2016 to the 2017 WIPO General Assembly, which “will take stock of and consider the text(s) progress made, and decide on whether to convene a diplomatic conference (high-level negotiating meeting), continue negotiations, or otherwise conclude the negotiations.”Yesterday, in their opening statements, a large number of developing countries called for the renewal of the committee and the adoption of legally binding treaty(ies) to protect TK, GR, and TCEs from misappropriation, such as members of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries like Mexico, Brazil and Peru, and members of the Asia Pacific Group, such as Nepal, Lao and Sri Lanka, as well as the Holy See.Members of the African Group, such as South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Zimbabwe, and Egypt supported transforming the IGC into a standing committee, as well as Thailand and Indonesia.Group B developed countries agreed to a “reasonable and balanced” way forward reflecting all views on substantial issues of the committee and called for a “new framework for discussion.”EU, Others Seek another AlternativeThe European Union, supported by several countries, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, Canada, and Italy, said in its opening statement, “we believe we should draw the appropriate conclusions on the inability of the IGC to reach an agreement within the current framework and parameters. We therefore should consider alternatives for our work on this topic.”The EU representative said: “At this stage no proposal on the table would enable us to move forward. The EU and its Member States are willing to discuss alternative proposals, which could yield a more realistic outcome.”Different Proposals; Now Including GRULACThe African Group has proposed that the committee be made permanent (IPW, WIPO, 23 September 2015).The United States proposed that the IGC’s work be suspended and replaced by seminars, studies and an experts working group (IPW, WIPO, 11 September 2015).Switzerland, on behalf of the Holy See, Kenya, Mozambique, New Zealand and Norway, submitted a proposal to renew the mandate of the IGC for 2016-2017.In September, the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC) sent a draft proposal to the facilitator, suggesting that the mandate of the committee be renewed.The proposal suggests the IGC continue its work with the objective of “reaching an agreement on a text(s) of an international legal instrument(s) which will ensure the effective protection of GR [genetic resources], TK [traditional knowledge], and TCEs [traditional cultural expressions].” The draft also included a work programme with four meetings in 2016.The GRULAC proposal differs from the Swiss proposal on the renewal and whether additional meetings would be held after the next biennium.The Swiss proposal states: “The Committee is requested to make a recommendation to the GA 2017 on the future work, including on convening a diplomatic conference, continuing negotiations, or otherwise concluding the negotiations, on an international legal instrument(s) on intellectual property and GR, TK and TCEs.”The GRULAC proposal says that in 2017, the committee is requested to submit to the GA the text(s) of an international instrument(s) which will ensure the effective protection of GRs TK and TCEs. The 2017 GA would then take stock of and consider the text(s) progress made and decide on convening a diplomatic conference and will consider the need for additional meetings, taking into account the budgetary process.The Swiss and GRULAC proposals also differ somewhat on objectives, whether it is for intellectual property or for the protection of GRs, TK and TCEs.The Swiss proposal says the object is to pursue “international legal instrument(s) on intellectual property, and which will ensure the effective and balanced protection of GRs, TK and TCEs.”GRULAC meanwhile said the objective is “reaching an agreement on a text(s) of an international legal instrument(s) which will ensure the effective protection of GRs, TK and TCEs.”William New contributed to this report. 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