Discussions On Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge Resume At WIPO Against Stormy Background 11/02/2016 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a 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)After a hiatus of one year, the WIPO Committee working on the protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore against misappropriation resumes its work next week. The subject is touchy, with most developing countries asking for legal protection, while some developed countries do not want to consider binding rules. Disagreement already arose at the end of 2015 over interpretation of the committee’s mandate, freshly approved in October. The 29th session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) takes place from 15-19 February. A seminar on genetic resources originally scheduled in February, prior to next week’s session, is no longer in the IGC meeting schedule. The same goes for a seminar on traditional knowledge previously scheduled from 25-26 August. The mandate of the committee was renewed at the WIPO annual General Assembly in October, after a one-year pause due to the inability of member states to agree on a work programme at the 2014 WIPO General Assembly (IPW, WIPO, 15 October 2015). Instructions from General Assembly The General Assembly decision [pdf] instructs the IGC to try to reach a common understanding on core issues, “including definition of misappropriation, beneficiaries, subject matter, objectives, and what TK/TCEs subject matter is entitled to protection at an international level, including consideration of exceptions and limitations and the relationship with the public domain.” The IGC is mandated to meet six times during the 2016/2017 biennium. The General Assembly in 2017 is expected to take stock of the progress achieved and decide on whether or not to convene a high-level treaty negotiation (diplomatic conference) or continue negotiations. Meeting Documents, Draft Articles The meeting documents for the 29th session of the IGC include a document [pdf] containing a set of draft articles for what could become an international treaty to protect genetic resources. The draft agenda of the session is here [pdf]. According to a source, the mandatory disclosure of genetic resources in patent applications is expected to be an important point of discussion next week. Among the documents for the session, a technical review [pdf] of key intellectual property-related issues of the WIPO draft instrument on genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions was submitted in January by the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. It was authored by James Anaya, former UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. On 22 January, Canada, Japan, Norway, South Korea, and the United States submitted a joint recommendation [pdf] on genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. The document suggests items such as definition, objectives and principles – which some developed countries insisted in the past should be firmly defined – and the prevention of the erroneous grant of patents. Canada, Japan, South Korea and the US also submitted a joint recommendation [pdf] on the use of databases for the defensive protection of genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources on 22 January. Canada, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Russia, and the US on the same day tabled a proposal [pdf] for terms of reference for a study by WIPO on measures related to the avoidance of the erroneous grant of patents and compliance with existing access and benefit-sharing systems. The two joint recommendations and the proposal had already been submitted in earlier sessions of the IGC, according to some sources. Proposed New IGC Chair Jamaican Ambassador Wayne McCook, who chaired the IGC for a number of sessions, stepped down in 2014. Selecting a new chair was a difficult process, according to sources. Although chairs of WIPO Committees are formally elected on the first day of the committees, negotiations around the choice are conducted before the sessions. A number of countries favoured Ian Goss of Australia, who has served as facilitator in IGC discussions for some years, as the next IGC chair, while some developed countries proposed a long-time chair of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), Jukka Liedes of Finland, according to sources. Member states came to an agreement in the last few days, sources told Intellectual Property Watch, and it is expected that Goss will be elected as chair of the IGC, while Liedes will serve as vice-chair, along with an Indonesian delegate. Kerfluffle over Seminars The decision adopted by the General Assembly stated: “Taking note of the utility served by the 2015 WIPO seminars on IGC-related subjects, provision shall be made for the Secretariat, under Program 4, to organize inter-sessional seminars and workshops to build regional and cross-regional knowledge and consensus on issues related to IP and GRs, TK and TCEs with a focus on unresolved issues.” TCEs refer to traditional cultural expressions, or folklore. According to some sources, some Group B developed countries, such as members of the European Union, and some of the Group of Central European and Baltic States, challenged the number of seminars being organised in 2016, and asked the secretariat that the number be diminished. This was in return challenged by developing countries, according to sources who said last week a solution was agreed upon: three seminars are now expected to take place over the 2016-2017 biennium, immediately before the second session of each of the “themes” of the IGC (genetic resources, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions). Four seminars had been previously scheduled in 2016 alone. The number is now down to two, according to sources. A seminar on genetic resources is now scheduled on 26-27 May, another is expected to be organised before the second session on traditional knowledge, in November. The revised provisional schedule (dated 17 December 2015) for the IGC is available here [pdf]. But this version includes a footnote saying that “the number and duration of other Seminars will be decided by the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at its first session in 2016.” Image Credits: Flickr – Biodiversity International 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 Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."Discussions On Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge Resume At WIPO Against Stormy Background" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.