[Ip-health] TWN Info: WIPO - Hectic negotiations to renew the mandate of IGC

Mirza Alas mirzalas at gmail.com
Wed Oct 14 03:37:29 PDT 2015

Title : TWN Info: WIPO - Hectic negotiations to renew the mandate of IGC
Date : 14 October 2015

TWN Info Service on Intellectual Property Issues (Oct15/04), Biod and TK
14 October 2015
Third World Network

WIPO:  Hectic negotiations to renew the mandate of IGC

Geneva, 14 October (K M Gopakumar and Mirza Alas) – Hectic negotiations are
on to renew the mandate of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual
Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC)
for text-based negotiations.

This committee under the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
was established in 2000 as a discussion forum; in 2009 the WIPO General
Assembly provided the mandate for text-based negotiations for an
international legal instrument(s). Its future has been debated at the 55th
General Assemblies of WIPO (5 – 14 October) with a decision to be adopted
today, the final day.

The second ambassadors’ level meeting to resolve the roadblockswas called
on 13October (Tuesday) evening by the Chair of the WIPO General Assembly
Ambassador Gabriel Duque of Colombia.  Even though the meeting discussed
several issues most of the discussions were focussed on the renewal of the
IGC mandate for text-based negotiations. The other issues that came up in
the meeting were:  Program and budget and financing of the Lisbon Union (on
appellations of origin and geographical indications); decision related to
the Standing Committee on Copyright and related Rights; decision related to
the demand to convene a diplomatic conference on a Design Law Treaty; and
opening of external offices of WIPO.

This first ambassadorial level meeting took place on 12October (Monday).

Meanwhile the IGC facilitator Mr. Ian Goss has circulated the fourth
version of the draft decision text. Third World Network (TWN) learned that
an informal consultation on this fourth version would be held today
(Wednesday, 14 October) around 11.30 am.

TWN also learned that the new text proposes to continuetoexpeditethe work
of the IGC,“with a focus on narrowing existing gaps, with openandfull
engagement, including text-based negotiations, with the objective of
reaching an agreement on an international legal instrument(s) relating to
intellectual property which will ensure the balanced and effective
protection of genetic resources (GRs), traditional knowledge (TK) and
traditional cultural expressions (TCEs)”.

Unlike the initial mandate for text-based negotiations in 2009 the new
proposal does not provide an exclusive mandate for text-based negotiations.
Instead, the mandate is now qualified and requires a focus on narrowing
existing gaps. Further, an observer pointed out that the word ‘balanced’
was not in the original mandate.

The 2009 decision reads: “The committee will during the next budgetary
biennium (2010/2011) and without prejudice to the work pursued in other
fora, continue its work and undertake text-based negotiations with the
objective of reaching agreement on a text of an international legal
instrument (or instruments) which will ensure the effective protection of
GRs (genetic resources), TK (traditional knowledge) and TCEs (traditional
cultural expressions)”.

There are six session of the IGC scheduled for the 2016-17 biennium and the
20th WIPO General Assembly in 2017 is to take stock of progress made, and
decide on whether to convene a diplomatic conference to conclude
negotiations or continue

According to the proposal, the IGC is to focus on unresolved issues such as
definition of misappropriation, beneficiaries, subject matter, objectives,
and what TK/TCE subject matter is entitled to protection at an
international level, including consideration of exceptions and limitations
and the relationship with the public domain.

The facilitator’s draft decision proposes as the basis of IGC’s work during
2016-17 allWIPOworking documents,including WIPO/GRTKF/IC/28/4,
WIPO/GRTKF/IC/28/5andWIPO/GRTKF/IC/28/6.  However, it also allows other
contributions from Member States in the form of studies, examples of
national experiences, examples of protectable subject matter and subject
matter that is not intended to be protected; and outputs of any expert
panel(s) established by the Committee and IGC-related seminars and
workshops. The text also states that examples, studies, seminars or
workshops are not to delay progress or establish any preconditions for the

The Committee may also consider the conversion of the Committee into a
Standing Committee and, if so agreed, make a recommendation in this regard
to the General Assembly in 2016 or 2017.

Since Monday developing countries have been asking Group B (comprising
several developed countries), the European Union and Central European and
Baltic States to state the reasons for their objection to the renewal of
the IGC mandate for text-based negotiations. Many developing country
delegates told TWN that WIPO Member States that belong to these groups
constitute a minority of WIPO membership and they have failed to give a
convincing answer.

Often these groups assert that the text in its current form contains many
brackets and progress is very slow, therefore there is no need to renew the
mandate for text-based negotiations. A developing country delegate told TWN
that the existence of brackets is the most pressing need to continue the
negotiation with an objective of finding consensus.

TWN also learned that many developing country delegates spoke at the
Ambassador level meeting last evening pointing out that refusal to renew
the IGC mandate for text-based negotiation by a minority of WIPO membership
would undermine the multilateral nature of WIPO.

However, an informed source disclosed that the EU and CEBS are using the
renewal of IGC mandate to pressurise the African Group to withdraw its
proposal of disclosure of origin requirement in the draft Design Law Treaty
(DLT). In November 2014 at the 32nd session of the Standing Committee on
Trademark, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications the African
Group had proposed the following paragraphs as Article 3 bis to the DLT:

Article 3 bis

Mandatory Disclosure of Traditional Knowledge or Traditional Cultural

(1)  [Contracting Parties shall require all applicants to disclose whether
any traditional knowledge or traditional cultural expression has been used
to develop the design and the source thereof. Contracting Parties shall not
process applications until full disclosure is made by applicants.]

(2)  [Where an applicant discloses that its application for the grant of an
industrial design is based on traditional knowledge and traditional
cultural expression, the contracting party shall request further
information pertaining to prior informed consent and fair and equitable
benefit sharing.

(3) [Where an applicant makes a wrongful disclosure, Contracting Parties
shall provide for the revocation of the industrial design where the design
has been registered, or the dismissal of the application where registration
is pending …

The EU and CEBS are said to be attempting to use the IGC mandate renewal
issue to remove the abovementioned provisions from the draft DLT.+

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