Press Release 470
Geneva, December 12, 2006


IGC Addresses Core Issues for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions

A key committee of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), meeting in Geneva from November 30 to December 8, 2006, agreed upon a new approach to their work on intellectual property and traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) (also termed 'expressions of folklore').

The Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) adopted two lists of issues that it agreed would be the focus of its future discussions. These sets of issues (to be posted shortly at www.wipo.int/tk) represent a way forward for discussion as they provide a systematic approach to the fundamental policy choices that member states will have to make in developing or enhancing protection of TK and TCEs.

The IGC requested delegates and observers to provide input on these core issues, which cover such questions as definitions of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, the form and scope of protection, and the nature of the beneficiaries, up to the end of March 2007. These comments will be posted on the WIPO website upon receipt and made available to member states by the end of April 2007.

With regard to the question of genetic resources, the committee requested the secretariat to prepare a working document listing options for continuing discussions or further work, including in the area of the disclosure requirement and alternative proposals for dealing with the relationship between IP and genetic resources; the interface between the patent system and genetic resources; and the intellectual property aspects of access and benefit-sharing contracts. This will be submitted for the IGC's consideration at its next meeting. The committee also requested the secretariat to provide a factual update of international developments relevant to IP and genetic resources. The committee has in the past developed valuable resources in this field, including a WIPO Technical Study on Disclosure Requirements commissioned by the Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (https://www.wipo.int/edocs/pubdocs/en/tk/786/wipo_pub_786.pdf).

This was the first IGC meeting that included participation funded through the voluntary fund, which seeks to enhance participation of indigenous and local communities in the work of the IGC. Details of the operation of the voluntary fund are available at https://www.wipo.int/tk/en/ngoparticipation/voluntary_fund/index.html. The committee opened its work with a panel of indigenous and local community representatives from Bangladesh, Canada, Ecuador, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Peru and the Ukraine, chaired by Mr. Rodrigo de la Cruz, a Kichwa person from Ecuador, who emphasized the role of indigenous customary law as the basis for appropriate protection in the panel summary he presented to the committee.

The next session of the IGC will take place from July 3 to 12, 2007. This will be the final working session of the IGC before it reports to the WIPO Assemblies meeting in autumn 2007. In 2005, WIPO member states renewed the mandate of the IGC for an additional two years, agreeing to accelerate its work in establishing a concrete outcome with a particular focus on the international dimension.

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