World Intellectual Property Organization

IGC 26 Update: Negotiators Advance on Text on IP & Genetic Resources

WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) concluded a week-long session on February 7, 2014 with a cleaner and more focused draft text of an international legal instrument on intellectual property and genetic resources.

The draft text will be transmitted to the September 2014 session of the WIPO General Assembly, subject to any agreed modifications on cross-cutting issues the IGC may make at its July 2014 session.

At the opening of the session, the IGC re-elected Ambassador Wayne McCook of Jamaica as its Chair for the 2014-2015 biennium. Ms. Alexandra Grazioli of Switzerland, Ms. Ahlem Sara Charikhi of Algeria, and Mr. Abdulkadir Jailani of Indonesia were elected as Vice-chairs of the IGC for the same period.

WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on IP and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC). More IGC photos on Flickr.

High-level discussion

The session, the first under the 2014-2015 mandate of the IGC, began with an Ambassadorial/Senior Capital-based Officials meeting to share views on key policy issues relating to the negotiations, to further inform/guide the process.

The Ambassadorial/Senior Capital-based Officials meeting was invited to focus in particular on four questions, namely

  • In respect of each theme of the IGC (genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions):
    1. What is the policy issue that needs to be resolved as a priority and why?
    2. What should be dealt with in an international legal instrument and what could be left to be dealt with at the national level?
    3. What suggestions are there for common ground on the issues that need to be resolved internationally?
  • Regarding the process as a whole, what new negotiating pathways and modalities might there be to make further progress?

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Chair of the IGC provided, under his own authority, a summary of the discussion, which will be reflected in the report of the session.

Negotiations

The plenary began with a brief review of the 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 expert group as observers without speaking rights, with indigenous peoples also able to nominate two additional participants without speaking rights. All other participants were able to follow the expert group’s deliberations via audio and video feed in adjoining rooms.

The plenary requested Mr. Ian Goss (Australia), Mr. Emmanuel Sackey (African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO)) and Ms. Chandni Raina (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.

Informal informals

To further assist delegations in arriving at compromise solutions on difficult areas of the negotiations, the Chair successfully made use of “ informal informals” – informal open-ended discussions involving key delegations on contentious issues. These were convened and led by Mr. Goss in his capacity as the “Friend of the Chair”.

Work schedule

The expert group worked on the text on Tuesday morning, February 4. A series of open-ended “ informal-informals” were led by the Friend of the Chair on Tuesday afternoon to address some issues arising from the expert group. The expert group was reconvened on Wednesday morning, February 5, to consider the results of the “informal informals” and make further inputs to the text.

On Wednesday afternoon, a first revision of the text (Rev.1) was presented by the facilitators to the plenary for review. The plenary offered comments on the Rev. 1 on Thursday morning. The expert group resumed work on Thursday afternoon with the aim of further developing the Rev. 1. The Friend of the Chair led another round of open-ended “informal informals” on Thursday evening and a report was presented to the expert group on Friday morning, January 7. After a final round of open-ended “informal informals” on Friday afternoon, a second revision of the text (Rev. 2) was issued by the facilitators on Friday afternoon. The plenary reviewed the Rev. 2 on Friday evening.

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, subject to any modifications on cross-cutting issues agreed at the July 2014 session of the IGC. Other comments comprising new textual proposals and other substantive comments will be reflected in the report of the session.

In accordance with the IGC’s mandate PDF, Mandate of the IGC and work program for 2014, the WIPO General Assembly will, with a view to finalising the text(s) within the biennium, inter alia take stock of progress made and decide on convening a Diplomatic Conference.

The approximately 11 page, streamlined text covers, inter alia, issues such as:

  • the definition of main terms
  • a preamble
  • policy objectives
  • the subject matter of protection
  • the scope of the instrument
  • disclosure requirements
  • exceptions and limitations
  • sanctions and remedies
  • defensive measures
  • database search systems
  • international cooperation.

New working documents

Two new working documents were submitted shortly before the session a Joint Recommendation on Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge (submitted by the Delegations of Canada, Japan, Norway, 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 the Delegations of Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America). These documents were noted.

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 the Delegations of Canada, Japan, Norway, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the United States of America) was submitted during the session and briefly discussed. The proponents were invited by the Chair to re-submit the proposal well in advance of the next session of the IGC so that it may be discussed fully.

In line with attempts to further assist delegations to prepare for sessions of the IGC, the WIPO Secretariat had created a new IGC Preparation Kit on the TK website. Relevant documents and materials for the session were collated and made directly accessible here.

Voluntary Fund

The WIPO Voluntary Fund for Accredited Indigenous and Local Communities funded one indigenous and local community participant at the session. The Chair of the IGC and the Secretariat reminded the IGC, however, that the Voluntary Fund has now run out of funds and is in dire need of new contributions.

Indigenous peoples and local community participation

The WIPO Secretariat facilitated, as usual, a meeting of the Indigenous Caucus (the Indigenous Consultative Forum) on the Sunday before the session began, February 2, 2014, at the WIPO Headquarters. Additionally, the indigenous caucus organized daily meetings during the session. The WIPO Secretariat continued to fund secretarial services (secretarial, interpretation and translation) for indigenous and local communities at the session, provided by the Documentation Centre for Indigenous Peoples (DoCip).

Indigenous panel

An indigenous panel PDF, Indigenous Panel Flyer, titled Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources: What is at Stake for Indigenous Peoples? was held on Monday afternoon. The keynote speaker was Prof. James Anaya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, while other panelists were Ms. Hema Broad, Director, Nga Kaiawhina a Wai 262 (NKW262), New Zealand and Mr. Marcial Arias Garcia, Policy Advisor, Fundacion para la Promocion del Conocimiento Tradicional (FPCT), Panama. The Panel was chaired by Ms. Jennifer Tauli Corpuz, Legal Officer, Tebtebba Foundation, Philippines. Many delegates welcomed and attended the Panel, thanks particularly to the high caliber of the panelists who addressed directly the issues under negotiation at the session.

Final report

The draft report of IGC 26 will be tabled for adoption at IGC 27 which will be held from March 24 to April 4, 2014.

Attendance

The Committee was attended by participants from 111 countries and 63 observers. As already noted, it was chaired by Ambassador Wayne McCook (Jamaica), with Ms. Alexandra Grazioli (Switzerland), Ms. Ahlem Sara Charikhi (Algeria) and Mr. Abdulkadir Jailani (Indonesia) as Vice-Chairs. A total of fifteen organizations were accredited as new observers at the session.

Side events

A number of side-events held during the session attracted strong interest. These were

  • Small-scale Farmers, Innovation and the Competition of International Regimes, presented by Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO).
  • UK Patent Activity for Genetic Resources, presented by the United Nations University and the UK Intellectual Property Office.
  • Tackling Misappropriation through the Patent System, presented by The South Centre.
  • The Nagoya Protocol: Recent Developments on the Pilot Phase of the ABS Clearing-House Related to Monitoring the Utilization of Genetic Resources, presented by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Next IGC session

The Twenty-Seventh session of the IGC, which will address the themes of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, will take place from March 24 to April 4, 2014.

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