[A2k] IP-Watch: Experts Work On WIPO Traditional Knowledge Draft Treaty Text This Week

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Mon Feb 21 08:02:27 PST 2011


<SNIP>

The expert from South Africa said that it would be useful to separate  
the scope and subject matter of traditional knowledge from the subject  
of eligibility criteria. Several experts approved this suggestion.

Article one is “a horrible mess,” said the expert from the United  
States, calling for a simplification of the text, according to  
participants. The real concern in article one, he said, was that it  
was not disclosing the existing tensions on the notion of public  
domain issue, as the US is keen to protect a robust public domain. He  
cited the WIPO Development Agenda and its call on a “support a robust  
public domain in WIPO’s Member States.”

A representative of an indigenous peoples tribes said the public  
domain was about 40 to 50 years old in the intellectual property  
system. Things in the public domain “just do not fall into the public  
domain, they are put in the public domain by law,” he said.

There is no equivalent to the public domain in traditional cultures,  
he said. This is an important point, he added, as knowledge placed  
into the public domain could be accessed without limitation and  
permission in a manner that disregards customary uses and laws of  
indigenous communities.


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Intellectual Property Watch
21 February 2011

Experts Work On WIPO Traditional Knowledge Draft Treaty Text This Week
  By Catherine Saez @ 4:27 pm
A group of country experts are gathered at the World Intellectual  
Property Organization this week to elaborate a draft text on  
intellectual property and traditional knowledge. The positive momentum  
set by the results obtained by experts on traditional cultural  
expressions last July paved the way for this week’s agenda.

The Second Intersessional Working Group of the WIPO Intergovernmental  
Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional  
Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) is meeting from 21-25 February with the  
aim of producing a negotiating text to be presented at the next full  
session of the IGC from 9-13 May.

The three areas covered by the IGC are being discussed in  
intersessional working groups gathering experts in each of the fields  
in order to speed up the process towards an international instrument.  
Those working groups are open to all membership and observers but only  
one participant from each party can attend, according to a WIPO  
official.

The first intersessional working group (IWG 1), held in July 2010,  
covered the protection of traditional cultural expressions and  
produced a negotiating text discussed during the IGC in December, and  
to be presented in May (IPW, WIPO, 11 December 2010).

The second group (IWG 2) is focused on traditional knowledge, and a  
third group (IWG 3) will meet next week on genetic resources.

“We need to roll up our sleeves,” meeting Chair Ian Heath of Australia  
told the plenary, according to participants. He said the expert  
meeting is not a negotiating group but that the IGC had given them a  
mandate to provide expertise and try to develop a cleaner, clearer text.

The approach taken at the IWG 1, which broke out the discussion among  
a series of subgroups to look at particular articles, has been  
successful, Heath said, and he proposed the same approach for this  
meeting, some participants said.

The experts are working from a document [pdf] prepared by the WIPO  
secretariat, which is a revised version of a previous document [pdf],  
and reflects the comments and proposals made by countries and  
observers from the 15th to the 17th sessions of the IGC and  
intersessional commenting processes.

According to WIPO, structural changes have been made to the document  
so that its structure is closer to the document recently drafted for  
cultural expressions.

The first day and a half of this week’s meeting will be devoted to a  
read-through of the text seeking comments from the experts in plenary,  
Heath told the plenary. Those discussions should guide the work of the  
subgroups, he said.

This morning experts discussed Article one on “subject matter of  
protection.” The chair said that in the context of an international  
instrument, there was a need to acknowledge the breath of traditional  
knowledge, but also maybe to look at a narrower path for the scope of  
protection.

The expert from South Africa said that it would be useful to separate  
the scope and subject matter of traditional knowledge from the subject  
of eligibility criteria. Several experts approved this suggestion.

Article one is “a horrible mess,” said the expert from the United  
States, calling for a simplification of the text, according to  
participants. The real concern in article one, he said, was that it  
was not disclosing the existing tensions on the notion of public  
domain issue, as the US is keen to protect a robust public domain. He  
cited the WIPO Development Agenda and its call on a “support a robust  
public domain in WIPO’s Member States.”

A representative of an indigenous peoples tribes said the public  
domain was about 40 to 50 years old in the intellectual property  
system. Things in the public domain “just do not fall into the public  
domain, they are put in the public domain by law,” he said.

There is no equivalent to the public domain in traditional cultures,  
he said. This is an important point, he added, as knowledge placed  
into the public domain could be accessed without limitation and  
permission in a manner that disregards customary uses and laws of  
indigenous communities.

According to the IGW 2 working document, several points of views will  
have to be reconciled. Among them is the issue of the public domain,  
the beneficiaries of the protection, and when the protection should be  
given to a community or to individuals. Others are prior informed  
consent of indigenous peoples or local communities before using  
indigenous knowledge, recognition of customary laws, and the  
definition of traditional knowledge.

The recent adoption of the UN Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic  
Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from  
their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity [pdf]  
should influence the debate, according to several sources, as it  
covers and addresses some of the issues relating to traditional  
knowledge. It will also apply to next week discussion on genetic  
resources.


------------------------------------------------------------


Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
thiru at keionline.org


Tel: +41 22 791 6727
Mobile: +41 76 508 0997








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