Issues related to the extension of the protection of geographical indications provided for in Article 23 of the TRIPS Agreement to products other than wines and spirits and those related to the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity
Report by the WTO Director-General (WT/GC/W/633, TN/C/W/61), 21 April 2011

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: This report by WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, presented to the WTO Trade Negotiations Committee and the General Council, summarizes the informal consultative process regarding the extension of the protection of geographical indications and issues related to the relationship between TRIPS and the CBD. On the latter issue, it is noted that discussions built on the common ground reported in 2008 – broad support for the general principles of prior informed consent and equitable sharing of benefits that are enshrined in the CBD; and agreement on the need to avoid erroneous patents, secure compliance with national benefit-sharing regimes, and ensure patent offices have available the information needed to make proper decisions on patent grants for inventions linked to genetic resources and traditional knowledge (TK).  Members voiced support for the CBD objectives, but remained divided as to the best means to fulfil them within the TRIPS framework. The structured discussions reviewed the practical implications and comparative merits of current proposals – a disclosure requirement, a database system, and national-based approaches to enforcing prior informed consent and equitable benefit sharing – considering how each of these options could effectively help achieve the agreed objectives, while not creating undue burdens. Members considered how databases and disclosure requirements would operate in practice to reduce the risk of patents being incorrectly granted over genetic resources and associated TK. The exchanges covered a number of general themes grouped into four clusters: cluster 1 on the legal character of misappropriation; cluster 2 on costs and benefits of measures, other than the disclosure requirement, to address misappropriation and benefit sharing; cluster 3 on the legal character and enforcement possibilities of national-based approaches, including a contract-based system, especially covering multiple jurisdictions; and cluster 4 on administrative costs and burdens, and the legal certainty and predictability, of a mandatory disclosure requirement within the patent system. Members have consistently voiced support for the principles and objectives of the CBD, and have agreed on the need to take steps to avoid erroneous patents, including through the use of databases, as appropriate, to avoid patents being granted on existing TK or genetic resources subject-matter. However, Members continue to differ on whether the formulation and application of a specific, tailored disclosure mechanism relating in particular to genetic resources and associated TK would be useful and effective in ensuring that the patent system promoted CBDobjectives, or whether other mechanisms should be preferred. Download the report [doc] … Read an IP Watch article on recent WTO discussions, 21 April 2011 …

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