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Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions

Breaking News: WIPO Member States Adopt Historic New Treaty on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge.

WIPO's work on these issues lies at the nexus of intellectual property (IP) and biodiversity, cultural heritage, agriculture, trade, life sciences, human rights, health, climate change and sustainable development.

Many Indigenous Peoples, local communities and governments seek intellectual property (IP) protection for traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) as intangible assets. Such assets can range from traditional medicine and environmental knowledge to art, symbols and music.

Genetic resources (GRs) as such are not patentable but inventions based on them may be. Widespread use and the digital and technological transformation of GRs for innovation in the life sciences creates the need for a unique, cross-cutting approach to the interface between IP and GRs.

Find out more: IGC | Indigenous portal | Frequently asked questions | Glossary of key terms

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WIPO Treaty on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge

In May 2024, WIPO member states adopted the first WIPO Treaty to address the interface between intellectual property, genetic resources and traditional knowledge which is also the first WIPO Treaty to include provisions specifically for Indigenous Peoples as well as local communities.

Disclaimer: The list of resources in the dropdown boxes is being updated continuously.

WIPO Photography Prize for Indigenous Youth 2024

Through this activity, WIPO celebrates and makes widely known the creativity of young members of Indigenous Peoples and encourages them to convey an impactful message about their peoples, communities and culture through photographic storytelling.

This year’s theme is Indigenous Peoples’ Ways of Healing and Well-Being: Honoring Our Ancestors’ Wisdom and Knowledge.

Submit your entry by July 15, 2024!


Email updates

Traditional Knowledge Updates – Regular news and resources about IP and TK; and IGC updates.

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Service areas

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(Photo: WIPO)

Facilitation of international negotiations

Facilitation of the work of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on IP and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore.

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(Photo: WIPO)

Policy and legislative advice to regional and national authorities

Information and technical assistance to regional and national authorities interested in establishing policies, strategies, action plans and legislation.

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Engagement with indigenous peoples and local communities

Information, services and programs to assist indigenous peoples and local communities to participate in WIPO’s activities.

Indigenous and local community visual

Community Enterprises Program

Supporting Indigenous and local community entrepreneurs to use IP in their businesses, for their and their communities’ benefit.

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(Photo: Brigitte Vezina)

Documentation of TK and TCEs

Information, practical tools and training on the IP implications of the documentation, registration and digitization of TK and TCEs.

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IP rights management in genetic resources and data

Information, practical tools and training related to the management of IP in genetic resources and genetic data.

Global Reference Point on IP and GRs, TK and TCEs

Repository of regional, national and community experiences: laws, case-studies, general publications, distance learning courses.

IP and Genetic Resources, TK and TCEs

General information on the interface between IP and GRs, TK and TCEs

Documenting TK – A Toolkit

A range of easy-to-use checklists and other resources to help anyone considering a documentation project

Key Questions on Patent Disclosure Requirements for Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge - Second Edition

Overview of key legal and operational questions related to patent disclosure requirements.