WIPO Traditional Knowledge Division Provides Capacity Building, Publications 01/02/2018 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 4 Comments 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 protection of genetic resources and traditional knowledge through the intellectual property system has been discussed for many years at the World Intellectual Property Organization. While delegates are working on potential international instruments to provide such protection, the WIPO Traditional Knowledge Division is involved in technical assistance and capacity building, providing information and issuing publications. The WIPO Traditional Knowledge Division has a dual responsibility. On the one hand, it facilitates text-based negotiations in the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Generic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC). On the other, it provides, upon request, technical assistance and capacity building, including information on options for sui generis approaches to protecting this knowledge. Capacity building includes workshops, trainings, and publications, three of which have been published recently. First-Ever Guide Designed for Indigenous Peoples Published in 2017, “A Practical Guide to Intellectual Property for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities [pdf],” is the first WIPO publication intended for the use of indigenous peoples, according to a WIPO official. According to the publication, the guide is meant to “encourage and empower indigenous peoples and local communities to use intellectual property strategically,” in line with specific business, cultural and/or developmental needs. The guide describes how traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs or folklore) are generally understood, and explains that the intellectual property system was not designed for TK and TCEs. “Although TK and TCEs existed long before the intellectual property system was developed, they were not considered worthy of intellectual property protection until quite recently,” it says. However, according to the guide, indigenous peoples have used the IP system to protect their TK and TCEs. It adds that sui generis systems are being developed in countries. Wend Wendland, director of the WIPO Traditional Knowledge Division, told Intellectual Property Watch that “up to 50 countries have introduced sui generis provisions in their national legislation to protect TK and/or TCEs (expressions of folklore) and/or addressing IP and genetic resources.” The guide presents the different types of IP protection: copyright, patents, trademarks and certification marks, geographical indications, industrial designs, and trade secrets, and explains how they can be used by indigenous peoples and local communities, with examples. One example cited by the guide is of a collaborative research project that led to a patent. The Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation (Australia) and the University of South Australia undertook research based on bush medicine plants, and identified compounds that can be used in the treatment of inflammation. Patent applications have been filed and a patent has been granted to both organisations, according to the guide. The guide is not suggesting that IP law “meets all the needs of indigenous peoples and local communities, but if strategically used, the intellectual property system can be crucial.” Wendland said, “Indigenous peoples and local communities benefit from knowing more about the IP system and when to use it, and when not to use it. The IP system offers options to protect and promote indigenous cultures which are useful to know about.” Key Questions on Patent Disclosure Requirements Also in 2017, a study [pdf] was published by the department, presenting key questions on patent disclosure requirements for genetic resources, and TK. The study analysed the choices available to policymakers regarding patent disclosure requirements related to genetic resources (GRs) and TK. According to a WIPO source, this study is based on an earlier version. Historically, the guide says, “there have been policy tensions between patent law and biodiversity-related legislation which have often been the subject of controversies.” It adds that “growing concerns by some about unauthorized access to and use of GRs and TK and their subsequent misappropriation have led to the introduction of additional measures to strengthen or broaden the conventional disclosure obligations in the patent system.” The publication presents subjects such as the objectives of patent disclosure requirements relating to GRs and TK; the difference between voluntary disclosure and mandatory disclosure; the role of the patent office; the possible content of disclosure; remedies and sanctions; and the relationship with instruments such as the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Toolkit for TK Documenting TK “may help indigenous peoples and local communities prevent others from wrongly asserting intellectual property rights over it,” WIPO Director General Francis Gurry wrote in the foreword of the WIPO toolkit [pdf] on documenting TK. The toolkit will be officially launched at the 35th session of the IGC, in March. The toolkit does not promote the documentation of TK as such, but suggests that documenting TK especially when that might lead to its dissemination “should only take place within the context of an intellectual property strategy,” Gurry wrote. The toolkit, published earlier this month, is the end result of many earlier drafts, according to a WIPO official, and includes three sections: basic concepts, key issues, and the “why and how of each specific project.” TK can be documented in different forms, including written registries, files, video, and images. The toolkit provides examples of such documentation, like photographing land and agro-forestry management activities of the Campas peoples (Brazil), videotaping traditional agriculture practices and technologies of Aymara people (Bolivia), and taking notes about herding traditions of the Tuareg peoples in the Sahel (Africa). TK documentation may play a role in both forms of intellectual protection of TK, according to the toolkit, whether it is positive protection or defensive protection. Activities on the Ground The WIPO Traditional Knowledge Division participated in and organised several events and workshops in 2017. In particular, an Advanced Training Course for African and Asian countries on GRs and IP with the Swedish Patent and Registration Office, was held in Stockholm, Sweden, from 12 November to 1 December. In May, WIPO organised: a practical workshop on IP, TK, and TCEs in Dakar, Senegal; a national multi-stakeholder workshop on the same subjects in Colombo, Sri Lanka in April; and in March a national workshop on IP, TK, TCEs and GRs in Bogotá, Colombia. Also in April, the TK Division organised a side event at the 16th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. The next meeting of the intergovernmental committee (IGC) will take place from 19-23 March. [Update:] Translations – The three publications will all be available in six languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. The translations are coming soon, according to WIPO. More generally, WIPO is committed to making as much WIPO content as possible available as widely as possible, while retaining the flexibility to restrict the use of certain types of content where appropriate, a WIPO official told Intellectual Property Watch. Therefore, WIPO has, in general, an open access policy, which allows anyone to reproduce, distribute, adapt, translate or perform the content for any purpose – including commercial publication – provided they acknowledge WIPO as the source, he said. WIPO warmly encourages the translation of WIPO publications into local languages. Particularly, the TK Division encourages the translation of its TK-related publications into indigenous languages, the official said. Following the open access policy, there is no requirement to seek formal permission from WIPO, to enter into a separate agreement, or to have the translated publications reviewed and approved by the organisation. WIPO also gives others the freedom to adapt the content for their own audiences, he said. However, the resulting version should credit WIPO appropriately, and should not be published with the WIPO logo or make any suggestion that it is an official WIPO translation. The formal WIPO open access policy is available at: http://www.wipo.int/tools/en/disclaim.html. Image Credits: World Intellectual Property Organization 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."WIPO Traditional Knowledge Division Provides Capacity Building, Publications" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.