July 2010

WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, First Intersessional Working Group
19-23 July 2010 (Geneva, Switzerland)

The first intersessional working group of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Foklore (IGC) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) focused on what is considered to be the most mature of the topics covered by IGC’s work: traditional cultural expressions. The working group was composed of technical experts, one from each WIPO member state, participating in their personal capacities. In addition, experts from indigenous groups and NGOs also took part in the informal and open-ended drafting groups. This new format resulted in an intense drafting session on traditional cultural expressions. The meeting’s outcome will be sent to the IGC, for consideration at its next session, to be held from 6-10 December 2010.

According to IP Watch, the meeting made the first real strides in over a decade at developing concrete rules to protect the cultural expressions and folklore of indigenous and local communities. At the same time, it is clear that creating a sui generis system for their protection is not a simple process. As attending delegates worked to refine text, disagreements were revealed on several of the articles in the form of different options, comments to the text, and questions on the state of play of protection and related institutions. There are currently 11 articles in the compilation text, some of which have been more controversial than others; a possible article 12 on transboundary cooperation was also proposed in the comments to the compilation text. Articles 2 and 4, on defining the beneficiaries and managers of cultural expressions rights, caused some disagreement, and may prove one of the harder issues to resolve. Other issues that came up were how to reference prior informed consent, and where in the text to do so, and who should manage rights. Visit the meeting website … Download the meeting summary report [pdf] … Read WIPO’s press release … Read an IP Watch article on the meeting …

IGC Sixteenth Session – Initial Draft Report
WIPO, 9 July 2010

The initial draft report of the 16th session of the IGC has been made available online. Written corrections may be submitted to the WIPO Secretariat by e-mail to: grtkf(at)wipo.int by 15 August 2010. The initial draft report in other languages will be uploaded progressively. Download the initial draft report [doc] …

Living Earth/Living Waters: A Symposium
7 August 2010 (National Museum of the American Indian, Washington DC, USA)

At this symposium, Native and non-Native scientists, leaders and innovators will discuss the latest research on the biosphere, in order to gain a deeper understanding of the essential role the ocean plays in sustaining every form of life and how human activity interacts with it, and the role we all can play in restoring and preserving it for future generations. Speakers include Billy Frank, Jr. (Nisqually), chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and a renowned Native leader; Ma’Ko’Quah Abigail Jones (Prairie Band Potawatomi), Haskell Indian Nations University;  Dr. Nancy Maynard, NASA senior research scientist and manager of NASA’s Tribal College and University Project; Alberto Mellado Moreno (Comcáac), founder of a sustainable indigenous aquaculture project in Mexico; and Dr. Daniel Wildcat (Yuchi/Muscogee), professor and director of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center. José Barreiro (Taino), NMAI assistant director for research, will moderate. For more information, please e-mail: NMAI-SSP(at)si.edu. Download the programme guide [pdf] … Follow live webcast …

Bridges Trade BioRes Review
ICTSD, vol. 4, no. 2, July 2010

This issue of Bridges Trade BioRes Review includes two articles of relevance to traditional knowledge, including:

  • The political economy of the international ABS regime negotiations: options and synergies with relevant IPR instruments and processes, by Jorge Cabrera Medaglia, in which the author concludes that there is plenty of space to strengthen mutual supportiveness between the international regime on ABS and the processes and instruments of the WTO, WIPO and UPOV, and that there is a need for compatibility between multiple regimes with very different objectives, approaches and values, all demanding and claiming legal protection; and
  • Project Rescue: protecting traditional knowledge and biodiversity in Panama, by Yahelys Arenas, in which the author presents an overview of Project Rescue, a programme developed by Panama’s Department of Collective Rights and Folklore Expressions to promote Act 20 on the collective rights of indigenous peoples in Panama, and to encourage collective rights records.

Download the issue [pdf] …

International Experts See Backswing in Pendulum of Biological Patenting
IP Watch, 21 July 2010

MUNICH, GERMANY: Some experts in Europe are coming to agreement that a tipping point might have been reached with regard to biological patents. At a conference organized this week by the “No Patents on Seeds” initiative on the eve of a public hearing of the European Patent Office on cases involving the patenting of broccoli and tomatoes, representatives from NGO and farmers’ associations from Europe and elsewhere said there were detectable changes in American jurisprudence, and European governments seem to be rethinking the biopatent issue. “There certainly is momentum,” said Carlos Correa, Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies on Industrial Property and Economics Law, at the University of Buenos Aires. Changes are visible not only in Europe, but also in the US where “healing has started,” he said, and the patent system is being given a second look after years of ever-extending patenting. While proposals to the WTO to clearly ban patents on life in the TRIPS Agreement – as tabled by Bolivia for example – were bold, WTO member countries could declare a stop on these patents in national law and still be fully compliant with TRIPS as it is, he said. Wilhelmina Pelegrina, executive director of the Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE), recommended taking a look into alternatives to patenting or even plant variety protection in breeding. From the experience of her organisation, which works with farmers, farmer organisations and governments in many Southeast Asian countries, she said, “We saw that farmers cannot only conserve traditional seed, but can also develop new seed and be the innovators.” In Laos, for example, 600 farmers connected with the initiative developed 114 new varieties over a period of nine years, much more than were produced in formal breeding processes. Read the article …

Resumed Ninth Meeting of the Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
10-16 July 2010 (Montreal, Canada)

The resumed ninth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was held from 10-16 July 2010, in Montreal, Canada. The first part of the ninth meeting was held from 22-28 March 2010, in Cali, Colombia, and suspended, with delegates agreeing that the draft protocol text tabled by the Co-Chairs and revised during the session (Cali Annex) was not a negotiated document. Delegates in Montreal worked on the basis of the Cali Annex, with the aim to finalize a protocol on ABS text in time for its possible adoption at the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 10), to be held from 18-29 October 2010, in Nagoya, Japan. Delegates made a number of important steps towards meeting their mandate, including progress in reaching agreement on certain difficult issues, such as the relationship of the future protocol with other instruments and compliance with domestic ABS requirements. They also identified the key issues that require further compromises, including scope and the issue of pathogens, derivatives and the concept of utilization of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and publicly available traditional knowledge and mechanisms to support compliance. Several sets of brackets remain and, as a result, the Working Group decided to hold another meeting before COP 10, possibly in September 2010.

TK-related issues were addressed under several provisions of the draft protocol, including article 4 on benefit-sharing, article 5 on access, article 5 bis on access to traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, article 8 on transboundary cooperation, article 9 on traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, and article 12 on compliance with ABS legislation, among others, most of them remaining unresolved. During the closing plenary, the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity highlighted indigenous peoples’ fundamental role in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, and urged protection of their collective rights to genetic resources and associated TK within any international instrument on ABS.

During the meeting, Natural Justice and the Berne Declaration hosted a side-event, moderated by UNU-IAS’ Geoff Burton, on the Nestle-rooibos and honeybush biopiracy case in South Africa, which exemplifies key ABS-related problems, including commodities being used as genetic resources for bioprospecting by companies contrary to the laws of the country of origin. Visit the meeting website … Download the meeting’s outcome: draft protocol on ABS [pdf] … Read the IISD Reporting Services daily and summary reports on the meeting … Read a BBC article by IIED’s Krystyna Swiderska addressing biopiracy and TK-related issues in the negotiations … Download UNEP’s publication on “Issues of Compliance: Considerations for the International Regime on Access and Benefit Sharing [pdf] …

Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore of the World Intellectual Property Organization, first intersessional working group
19-23 July 2010 (Geneva, Switzerland)

According to the decisions of the IGC sixteenth session, held from 3-7 May 2010, the first intersessional working group meeting will focus on the revised provisions for the protection of traditional cultural expressions, prepared by the Secretariat. Visit the meeting website … Download the revised provisions for the protection of cultural expressions [pdf] …

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