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Frequently Asked Questions: 2024 WIPO Diplomatic Conference on Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge

This is an informal resource intended to provide basic information for Member countries, observers and the general public.

A Diplomatic Conference represents the final stage of intergovernmental negotiations before the adoption of an international legal instrument. Countries and regional organizations that sign up to the instrument would then integrate its provisions into their national/regional laws.

Between 2001 and 2022, the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) conducted negotiations on genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources that led to the decision to convene the Diplomatic Conference. The Committee is known as ‘the IGC’. The IGC’s negotiations on traditional knowledge more broadly and traditional cultural expressions (folklore) will resume towards the end of 2024. Information about the IGC is available online.

The IGC met in a Special Session from September 4 to 8, 2023, and agreed on a number of revisions to the substantive articles of the text.

The Preparatory Committee of the Diplomatic Conference, which took place from September 11 to 13, 2023, approved the draft administrative provisions and final clauses for the instrument, the list of invitees and the draft rules of procedure of the Diplomatic Conference. The meeting of the Preparatory Committee was reconvened on December 13, 2023, to approve the draft agenda and the dates and venue of the Diplomatic Conference.

The Diplomatic Conference will take place at WIPO’s Geneva headquarters from May 13 to 24, 2024.

The Diplomatic Conference is open to Member States and accredited observers. It will be possible for the general public to follow the plenary sessions of the meeting on the WIPO Webcast.

The list of invitees to the Diplomatic Conference was approved by the Preparatory Committee. Invitations have been sent out to Member States and accredited observers.

There is a possibility to apply for ad hoc observer status to the Diplomatic Conference by February 12, 2024. More detailed information on how to apply is available.

The negotiating text for the Diplomatic Conference is the Basic Proposal for an International Legal Instrument Relating to Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge Associated with Genetic Resources.

An informal Executive Summary of the text is available online PDF, informal Executive Summary.

Other meeting documents for the Diplomatic Conference are available online. Any additional documents will be published as they become available. The documentation for the Diplomatic Conference is available in all six United Nations languages.

The draft instrument aims to enhance the efficacy, transparency, and quality of the patent system, and prevent patents from being granted erroneously for inventions that are not novel or inventive with regard to genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources.

Modern life sciences research, including through the use of genetic resources and traditional knowledge, offers humanity great benefits. However, many countries have been concerned that patents are granted for inventions that are based on genetic resources and their associated traditional knowledge, but that do not fulfill patentability requirements, such as novelty or inventiveness.

The proposal at the heart of the 2024 Diplomatic Conference is that applicants seeking patents for inventions that are based on genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge should disclose certain additional information as part of the patent application. This includes information about the source or origin of the genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.

The Basic Proposal also proposes that databases of information about genetic resources and traditional knowledge may be established and made accessible to patent examiners to reduce the risk of patents being granted erroneously.

The Basic Proposal would establish a mandatory patent disclosure requirement. This would require patent applicants to disclose the country of origin of the genetic resources and/or the Indigenous Peoples or local community providing the traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources if the claimed inventions are “materially/directly based on” genetic resources and/or traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources. If such information is unknown, the source of the genetic resource or traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources should be disclosed. If none of the above information is known, the patent applicant should be required to declare so. Patent offices should provide certain guidance, though they would have no obligation to verify the authenticity of the disclosure.

At present, more than 35 countries, including a mix of developing and developed countries, have adopted some form of this kind of disclosure requirement in their national and regional laws. This Disclosure Requirements Table PDF, Disclosure Requirements Table lists these regional and national provisions.

Additional information is available on the Information resources section of the 2024 WIPO Diplomatic Conference webpage. Further information on intellectual property, genetic resources and traditional knowledge can be found on the WIPO Traditional Knowledge webpage.

For any queries about the Diplomatic Conference, please contact the Traditional Knowledge Division.