IGC 23 Update: Negotiators advance on text on intellectual property and genetic resources

February 11, 2013

Geneva, February 11, 2013

Delegates at the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) concluded a week-long session on February 8, 2013 with a streamlined and focused draft text of an international legal instrument on intellectual property and genetic resources. The draft text will be submitted to the September 2013 session of the WIPO General Assembly. The session was chaired by Ambassador Wayne McCook of Jamaica.

Further detailed information

The session had begun with a plenary review of a “Consolidated Document Relating to Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources.” The IGC then established an informal expert group that worked to identify the core issues, reduce the number of options and streamline the text. The group comprised around 38 experts, with up to six experts per region nominated by the member states, as well as two indigenous experts nominated by indigenous peoples participating in the session. Other delegates were able to sit in on the work of the group as observers, with indigenous peoples also able to nominate two observers. All other participants were able to follow the expert group’s deliberations via audio and video feed in an adjoining room.

The plenary requested Mr. Ian Goss (Australia), Mr. Emmanuel Sackey (African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO)) and Dr. Biswajit Dhar (India) to act as “facilitators” and tasked them to prepare the further drafts of the text based on the discussions of the plenary and the work of the expert group.

The expert group worked on the text on Tuesday February 5. On Wednesday, February 6 a first revision of the text was presented by the facilitators to the plenary for review. The expert group continued its work on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. A second revision by the facilitators (Rev. 2) was circulated on Thursday night. A further review of Rev. 2 was carried out by the plenary on Friday, February 8. Any factual errors and omissions identified in this review will be addressed by the facilitators as they ‘clean up’ the text after the session and ready it for transmission to the WIPO General Assembly. Other comments comprising new textual proposals and other substantive comments will be reflected in the report of the session.

The IGC decided that the text will be transmitted to the WIPO General Assembly, which will meet from September 23 to October 2, 2013. In accordance with the  IGC’s mandate and work program for 2013 the WIPO General Assembly will inter alia take stock of progress made and decide on convening a Diplomatic Conference.

The approximately 10 page, streamlined text covers issues such as:

  •  the definition of main terms,
  • policy objectives, 
  • the subject matter of protection, 
  • beneficiaries,
  • the scope of the instrument, 
  • sanctions and remedies, and 
  • international cooperation.

  Four new documents were submitted shortly before and during the session:  an information document from Norway  on the disclosure requirement in Norwegian law, and, as working documents:  a Joint Recommendation on Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge (which had been previously submitted at the 20 th session of the IGC and was resubmitted by Canada, Japan, Norway, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America); a Proposal for the Terms of Reference for the Study by the WIPO Secretariat on Measures Related to the Avoidance of the Erroneous Grant of Patents and Compliance with Existing Access and Benefit-Sharing Systems (submitted by Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America); and a Joint Recommendation on The Use of Databases for the Defensive Protection of Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge Associated with Genetic Resources (submitted by Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America).  These documents were noted. 

In line with further attempts to strengthen observer participation, the WIPO Secretariat provided an extensive briefing for observers on the first day of the session.  Attention was also drawn to the new “ indigenous portal", an initiative of the WIPO Secretariat aimed at easing direct access to resources regarding and of particular interest to indigenous peoples and local communities.  The IGC Chair, Ambassador Wayne McCook, met with the indigenous caucus before and during the session. 
A number of organizations were accredited as new observers at the session.  The WIPO Voluntary Fund for Accredited Indigenous and Local Communities funded three indigenous and local community participants at the session.  The Chair of the IGC and the Secretariat reminded the IGC, however, that the Voluntary Fund is in dire need of new contributions.  The WIPO Secretariat continued to fund secretarial services for indigenous and local communities at the session, provided by the Documentation Centre for Indigenous Peoples (DoCip).
The session began with an indigenous panel which focused specifically on the perspectives of indigenous peoples and local communities in relation to intellectual property and genetic resources.  The keynote speaker was Prof. James Anaya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, while other panelists were Dr. Anil K. Gupta, Executive Vice-Chair, National Innovation Foundation, India, Ms. Tarcila Rivera Zea, President, Board of Directors, International Indigenous Women’s Forum (IIWF – FIMI) and Mr. Godber W. Tumushabe, Executive Director, Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), Kampala, Uganda. The Panel was chaired by Ms. Lucia Fernanda Inacio Belfort, Executive Director, Instituto Indigena Brasileiro para Propiedade Intelectual (INBRAPI).  Many delegates welcomed and attended the Panel, particularly because of the high caliber of the panelists and because they addressed the issues under negotiation at the session.
The draft report of IGC 23 will be tabled for adoption at IGC 25 which will be held from July 15 to 24, 2013.
The Committee was attended by participants from 110 countries and 65 observers.  As already noted, it was chaired by Ambassador Wayne McCook (Jamaica), with  Ms. Alexandra Grazioli (Switzerland) and Mr. Bebeb Djundjunan (Indonesia) as Vice-Chairs.
A number of side-events held during the session attracted strong interest.  These were: 
  • “Technical Briefing on Biopharmaceutical Innovation: Making Natural Product Research Work”, presented by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA). 
  •  “Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property: Recent Progress of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture”, presented by the Secretariat of the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).
  • “Biodiversity and the Origins of Genetic Resources in Patent Applications”, presented by the United Nations University and the UK Intellectual Property Office.
  • “The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing: Key features and recent developments towards its entry into force" presented by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
  • “Innovaciones culturales andinas asociadas a los recursos genéticos”, presented by CAPAJ.
The Twenty-Fourth session of the IGC, which will address the theme of traditional knowledge, will take place from April 22 to 26, 2013.