Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Mar08/18)
Majority of WTO members now support disclosure proposal
A majority of WTO members are now supporting the proposal to amend the WTO's TRIPS agreement so as to include a disclosure requirement for patent applications relating to genetic resources and traditional knowledge.
The ACP Group is the latest to have formally indicated (in a notice of 22 January) that their members are joining the list of co-sponsors of the proposal (WT/GC/W/564/Rev. 2) that was originally made by India, Brazil, Peru and other countries.
Last year, the Africa Group and the LDC Group also officially informed the Council that they were co-sponsoring the proposal.
Developing-country diplomatic sources said that there are now almost 80 countries that are officially supporting the disclosure proposal.
main advocates of the disclosure proposal (including
They also maintained that the issue should be included in the expected forthcoming negotiations in the "horizontal process", which is the next stage of the Doha Round.
In this horizontal process, agriculture and NAMA are to be negotiated together; and some members are also advocating that services and rules be discussed within or alongside this process; while the EU is advocating that geographical indications be also included, and India (supported by some developing countries) also want the disclosure issue to figure in this process.
WTO members believe that the best hope for their issue to be seriously considered for a decision is to be part of the package in the horizontal process.
However, developed countries at the TRIPS Council meeting also maintained their position, which is to oppose an amendment to the TRIPS Agreement, which they said would not solve the problems.
The developing-country proposal is for an amendment to the TRIPS Agreement so that it would be mandatory for countries to have in their national patent laws a requirement for patent applicants to disclose the countries of origin of biological materials and traditional knowledge used in their inventions, as well as evidence of prior informed consent and benefit sharing arrangements with the countries of origin and relevant local communities.
disclosure proposal was discussed under the agenda items of the review
of Article 27.3 (b) of TRIPS, the relation between the TRIPS agreement
and the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the protection of traditional
knowledge and folklore. It is also being negotiated under the "implementation
issues" of the
growing support base for the proposal, including co-sponsorship by the
African Group, the LDC Group and the ACP Group has taken the co-sponsoring
countries beyond the majority membership mark," said
this context, said
Disclosure Proposal seeks to meet these objectives through amendment
of the TRIPS Agreement to include mandatory disclosure requirements,
prior informed consent and access and benefit sharing, thus meeting
the three core concerns of the CBD. This would also make the patent
system transparent and credible, said
"Under the TRIPS Agreement, countries have no obligation to examine whether there is misappropriation of genetic resources and traditional knowledge in patent applications. Misappropriation of genetic resources and traditional knowledge and bio-piracy are issues with an international dimension and therefore need international obligations to be addressed in a satisfactory way.
"While national access and benefit sharing systems and databases on genetic resources can help, to some extent, in preventing bio-piracy, they are far from solving the problem."
to trade officials,
Another issue discussed at the meeting was technical assistance.
The two countries face the new deadline for LDCs to implement TRIPS by 1 July 2013, under a decision in 2005 to extend the TRIPS implementation deadline for LDCs.
meeting also heard
The meeting also saw continued disagreement on whether the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity should be an observer in the Council, even if invited ad hoc meeting-by-meeting. The chairperson said there was flexibility from one member previously opposing this, but continued objection from another.
the end of the meeting, the Chair of the Council, Ambassador Yonov Agah
The next meetings of the Council will be on 17-18 June and 28-29 October. +