TWN Info Service on Biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge (Feb14/10)
24 February 2014
Third World Network

Dear friends and colleagues,

The Open-ended Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Committee for the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources an the fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits (INCP) meets for its third and last time this week in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea. The Protocol was completed in 2010 under the Convention on Biological Diversity. there are now 21 ratifications and 29 more are needed for the entry into force of the Protocol. The INCP is tasked with preparing the ground work for entry into force of the Protocol. The discussion on 24-28 February will include capacity building and mechanisms to track and monitor compliance with the Protocol even as cases of misappropriation of genetic resources and traditional knowledge, colloquially called biopiracy, continues to surface.

In that regard, the parallel process of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) is significant as it can contribute to or undermine the implementation of the CBD and Nagoya Protocol.

We are pleased to share with you a report of the WIPO IGC that met in its 26th Session from 3-7 February in Geneva to continue its work on a draft international instrument on disclosure of origin of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge claimed in applications for patents and possibly other forms of intellectual property.

The objective of disclosure is to identify and prevent biopiracy.

Developing countries are pushing hard for the negotiations to move to their end game (a diplomatic conference to consider the draft text), but significant issues remain unresolved. Most importantly, the United States continues to strongly oppose a disclosure requirement and is intent upon stopping its adoption.  Major aspects of the US position have been supported by Canada, Japan, and South Korea.

Although both developing countries and the European Union (EU) agree that an international instrument may require disclosure of origin, the EU and South conceptions of the requirement appear increasingly different.  Whereas the EU favors a requirement with minimal detail and relatively weak sanctions for those that violate it, developing countries are seeking more robust requirements and sanctions on violations that include revocation of patents.

The WIPO General Assembly in 2009 provided the mandate for the text-based negotiations, renewing it in 2012 and 2013. The IGC is to submit to the 2014 General Assembly the text(s) of draft international legal instrument(s) that on the legal protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.  The Fifty Third session of the Assembly in May 2014 will take stock, consider the progress made on the text(s), and decide on convening a Diplomatic Conference. It will also consider the need for additional meetings, taking into account the budgetary process.

With best wishes,
Third World Network

WIPO IGC defines patent disclosure text, but strong disagreements remain (PDF)