Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore of the World Intellectual Property Organization, 22nd session
9-13 July 2012 (Geneva, Switzerland)

The WIPO IGC continued negotiations on the latest draft text of an international legal instrument on the protection of traditional cultural expressions (TCEs). According to the WIPO Secretariat, good progress was achieved on the definition of protectable TCEs, the identification of the beneficiaries, and exceptions and limitations to the scope of protection. The IGC established an informal expert group that worked to reduce the number of options in the text, which comprised around 36 experts, with up to five experts per region nominated by the States, as well as an indigenous expert nominated by indigenous peoples participating in the session.The IGC decided that the text will be transmitted to the WIPO General Assembly, which will meet from 1-9 October 2012, as “work in progress.” In accordance with the IGC’s mandate, the WIPO General Assembly will take stock of and consider the text and progress made, and decide on convening a Diplomatic Conference. The WIPO General Assembly will also consider the need for additional IGC meetings. The IGC has similarly decided to transmit texts on genetic resources and traditional knowledge to the General Assembly in February 2012 and April 2012 respectively.

According to IP Watch, there is still no decision on whether there should be three separate instruments for each topic area (genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions) or one combined instrument. In addition, disagreement remains on the nature of the future instrument/instruments (legally binding or not), on whether the diplomatic conference should take place, or on what should be negotiated there.

The IGC also discussed observers’ participation, and heard a report from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The session began with an Indigenous Panel which focused specifically on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the protection of TCEs. Many delegates welcomed the Panel, particularly because of the high caliber of the panelists and because they addressed the issues under negotiation at the session. According to IP Watch, indigenous groups attending the meeting continued to try to gain a higher status than ordinary WIPO observers, so that they could have more say in the proceedings. They were given a greater ability to speak during plenary sessions but were not successful in changing WIPO rules nor obtaining textual language they sought, and issued a strongly worded closing statement.

Read an update by the WIPO Secretariat … Read the meeting’s decisions … Read the IP Watch article of 13 July …