Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore: Twenty-Third Session
4-8 February 2013 (Geneva, Switzerland)

Currently meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, the WIPO IGC aims to bridge gaps on a text that could become an international instrument on protection of genetic resources from misappropriation, working on the basis of a consolidated document relating to intellectual property and genetic resources. The meeting was preceded by an informal meeting organized by India in New Delhi from 28-29 January 2013, aiming to reach further clarity on key issues regarding the three texts under negotiation in the IGC, on genetic resources, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.

The indigenous panel, held on 4 February 2013, heard from UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya, who called for strengthened participation of indigenous peoples in the process and a focus on the protection of their traditional knowledge, while WIPO raised alarm on the almost thorough depletion of the Voluntary Fund allowing indigenous peoples’ participation. Anaya provided a historical background outlining how conventional concepts of state sovereignty and property rights were detrimental to indigenous peoples, and how recent developments in decision-making at the international level have led to new understandings of these concepts, with special relevance for the rights of indigenous peoples to genetic resources and traditional knowledge.

Mandatory disclosure of origin in patent applications, and sanctions are among the main issues under discussion this week. The meeting is also expected to discuss a joint recommendation on genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge submitted by Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the US. According to IP Watch, the meeting started with delegates restating their long-held positions, showing a clear divide on mandatory disclosure of origin in patent applications. The US in particular expressed concern about the expansion of the scope of disclosure when reference is made to derivatives and associated traditional knowledge. Delegates offered comments on the consolidated document, which is currently composed of policy objectives and nine articles, before allowing an expert group to work on improving the text. In addition, a new working document was submitted by Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea and the US on 4 February, requesting the WIPO Secretariat to update the WIPO technical study on patent disclosure requirements related to genetic resources and traditional knowledge, with information regarding disclosure requirements and related access and benefit-sharing (ABS) systems that have been implemented by WIPO members.

Visit the meeting’s webpage, including links to webcasting and background documents … Read the IP Watch article of 1 February … Read the IP Watch article of 5 February … Read the IP Watch article on indigenous peoples rights of 5 February … Read James Anaya’s statement … Read an infojustice.org article on the negotiations and indigenous participation of 4 February …

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