Friday, May 05, 2006

Traditional Knowledge [IGC Report]

According to BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest, the ninth session of WIPO's Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore ended without much fanfare on April 28. Click here for a brief summary of the working documents and here for the decicionsIn its opening statement on a compromise between developing and developed countries, Norway proposed that members focus on the policy objectives and guiding principles for the protection of TK and traditional cultural expressions. They suggested the establishment of an international norm for protecting TK from misappropriation modeled on Article 10bis of the WIPO-administered Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, which mandates "effective protection against unfair competition." The Norwegian proposal excluded genetic resources from its ambit.Developed countries including Canada and the US concurred with Norway's proposition for the way forward, and said they were willing to examine the Article 10bis proposal more carefully.
However, developing countries expressed disagreement, arguing that the proposal would not adequately protect TK from misappropriation outside the jurisdiction of its country of origin. Brazil also reportedly stated that there are no internationally accepted definitions for Paris Convention terms such as "honest practice" -- the absence of which could cause unfair competition.Nonetheless, most countries expressed appreciation for Norway's efforts to initiate a resolution process in this area.
A voluntary fund was also established to help indigenous and local communities participate in the IGC's work. Sweden and France were the first to make contributions.
Rodney D. Ryder

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