WIPO TREATY AND GENETIC RESOURCES

United Nation defines inclusion as the process of improving the terms of participation in society, particularly for people who are disadvantaged, through enhancing opportunities, access to resources, voice and respect for rights.

WIPO being one of the 15 specialized agencies of United nation has taken an initiative by presenting and implementing a treaty on intellectual property, genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.

Objective:

The treaty is majorly focused on following five points:

1). Efficacy, transparency and quality of the patent system in accordance with genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated to it.

2). Importance of patent offices’ having access to appropriate information to prevent patents from being granted erroneously for inventions that are not novel or inventive regarding genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources,

3). Recognizing an international disclosure requirement and potential role of the patent system in contributing to the protection of genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources.

4). Acknowledging the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and commitment to achieving the ends set forth therein, and

5). Affirming that best efforts should be made to include Indigenous Peoples and local communities, as applicable, in implementing this Treaty.

The new treaty was adopted on May 24, 2024 at the WIPO headquarters in Geneva after 192 countries and 86 observers participated have concluded an agreement under which it will be mandatory for patent applicants to disclose country of origin or source of genetic resources if the claimed invention is based on those materials or associated traditional knowledge.

Therefore, now the Applicants mandatorily must disclose:

Information on the genetic resources and the Indigenous Peoples or local community providing the traditional knowledge involved along with the country of origin of these resources.

Impact on India and global south:

Genetic resources including genetic material from plants, animals, microorganisms, or other organisms crucial for agriculture, medicine, and environmental sustainability. India is a hotspot of biodiversity due to its rich genetic resources and has always had its fair share of struggles combating biopiracy. A US patent claiming Turmeric for its wound healing properties being an infamous example.

India long before the implementation of his treaty has taken initiative by formation of databases such as Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TDKL) and gene banks for protection of traditional knowledge and genetic resources.

The treaty is a big win for India and the global south as after long two decades of negotiations and support this treaty has been adopted at the multilateral fora, with a consensus globally. This will not only help protecting the biodiversity but will also increase transparency in the system. This shall also ensure much help and encouragement to start ups and the other Applicants in IP ecosystem. Cheers to the new remarkable treaty.

Author :- Nisha Wadhwa-(AVP – Head of Life Sciences & Chemistry) & Neha Sharma-(Patent Analyst)
Aumirah Insights

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