WIPO Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge Panel Seeks To Continue Unchanged 10/06/2005 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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)The World Intellectual Property Organisation committee tackling the relationship between intellectual property and genetic resources and traditional knowledge wrapped up a weeklong meeting today with little agreement other than to recommend the General Assembly continue the group’s mandate unchanged for the next two years. The Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) entered the 6 to 10 June meeting in Geneva facing the end of its mandate. According to participating officials, about the only agreement was “to disagree” and to recommend the same mandate be continued in the future. They sent the recommendation to WIPO’s General Assembly, which meets in the fall, for a decision. The chair’s summary agreed to at the close of the meeting reflects the lack of agreement, primarily taking note of the substantive list of proposals the committee had before it at the meeting’s start. The group did agree that “there was broad support for the process and work being undertaken within the IGC” on traditional cultural expressions and traditional knowledge. Attention to issues of the intellectual property of traditional cultural activities, medicines, and other knowledge has been rising on the international stage. The WIPO meeting result has implications for the 14-15 June meeting of the World Trade Organization Council on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Failure to reach agreement on a proposal to pull disclosure of origin of genetic resources out of WIPO takes some pressure off of the issue in the TRIPS Council, where, according to officials, key developed countries have regularly pushed off progress on the grounds that it is being discussed in WIPO and elsewhere, such the relationship between TRIPS and the Convention on Biodiversity, where some progress was noted after consultations in March. Meanwhile, the slow-moving WIPO committee has a reputation for being a “dumping ground” for proposals countries do not want to see make progress. Other potential issues on the TRIPS Council agenda include intellectual property enforcement, geographic indications (names of foods or other items based on place names, such as brie cheese), and the implementation of paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, which would make flexibilities from the TRIPS terms for public health reasons permanent. Midweek at the IGC, a range of developing country officials took the floor at WIPO to proclaim that continuing the IGC that does not deal with substance should not be given a mandate to continue. This could include the negotiation of a treaty or other binding instrument on these issues. Developed countries replied that they did not “preclude” a binding document from resulting from the committee, but fought off efforts to impose possible negotiating language into the text. For instance, an earlier proposal that “the IGC agreed the process should continue according to timetable and procedure” described in the meeting documents was resisted by the United States. A developing country official attending the WIPO meeting said afterward that developing countries who called for greater substance or the end of the committee never really considered it possible to kill the committee. Developing countries were split on the issue as some African and southeast Asia countries fought to keep the committee going, sources said. Another key impact of the committee’s persistence without a stronger mandate is its relation to WIPO Standing Committee on Patents. In that committee, developed countries are seeking the negotiation of a Substantive Patent Law Treaty that would harmonise patent laws. But developing countries have resisted in part out of concern that it could institutionalise developed country patent regimes they see as flawed and potentially harmful to them. Another issue in the IGC on which participants left empty handed was a proposal for a voluntary funding mechanism. A U.S. tribal representative said the proposal had support but that U.S. tribes want the U.S. government to fund them first, and that developed country governments are concerned about the price tag of the voluntary fund as well as who will make decisions about the fund. A written report on the committee outcome will be circulated by the end of June with corrections due by 31 July, followed by a final version. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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) Related "WIPO Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge Panel Seeks To Continue Unchanged" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.