WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, 20th session
14-22 February 2012 (Geneva, Switzerland)

Intellectual property and genetic resources was the subject of an eight-day negotiation at the WIPO IGC. On the basis of various written proposals and of plenary discussions, the IGC prepared and agreed to transmit a single, consolidated document to the next session of the WIPO General Assembly in October 2012. During the session, the Delegations of Canada, Japan, Norway, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America submitted a new proposal, namely a “Joint Recommendation on Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge”. On observers’ participation, the Committee examined a draft study on ways in which the participation of observers, especially representatives of indigenous and local communities, could be enhanced, and: noted that representatives of observers could, at the Chair’s discretion and in accordance with the Committee’s Rules of Procedure, be included in any “Friends of Chair” groups and/or act as co-chairs of working and drafting groups; supported the organization of an indigenous expert workshop preceding an upcoming session of the Committee; strongly encouraged Member States to organize regional and national consultations involving representatives of indigenous and local communities; supported the development or improvement of various awareness-raising and communications tools by the WIPO Secretariat; and welcomed the continued cooperation of the WIPO Secretariat with relevant UN and other bodies. The Committee requested further information from the WIPO Secretariat on proposed changes to the accreditation and funding procedures for ILC representatives and proposed revisions to the format of Indigenous Panels which precede each session of the Committee. This additional information will be discussed at the next IGC session, which will be held from 16-20 April 2012 with focus on TK. It should be noted that a number of indigenous representatives left the session on 21 February, citing particularly their concerns regarding their reduced participation. They reconsidered their decision after meeting informally with the Chair, and rejoined the meeting on the following day.

According to ICTSD, deliberations were marked by strong differences over the scope of protection under an instrument on genetic resources. Developed countries proposed reference to “patents” rather than intellectual property rights in general, a position which was opposed by developing countries. Disagreements also persisted on a mandatory disclosure requirement. The proposal for a joint recommendation mentioned above, that proposes the creation of databases regarding genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge instead of a mandatory disclosure requirement, and that would serve as a non-binding instrument if adopted, was met with resistance by many developing countries. Visit the meeting’s website … Read a report by ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes … Read a report by IP Watch …