Washington, D.C., 12 Apr 2006
Nations debating whether to harmonise national patent systems have turned their focus to developing country demands to include requirements that patent filers disclose the origin of genetic material and traditional knowledge.
The debate is taking place in a 10-12 April informal meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP). This week's informal meeting is tasked with preparing a work programme for the SCP, which is addressing proposals related to a Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT).
Stepping into the centre of the debate on the second day were China and India, who met together with other groups. The two rising economies appeared to take a middle ground between two new proposals put forward today, arguing for at least the inclusion of disclosure requirements while maintaining an openness to discuss other ideas from both sides. At press time, the governments were still meeting.
Developed countries have opposed the inclusion of disclosure in the patent debate, and have suggested relegating disclosure issues to a separate WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC). India on 10 April suggested the two groups might conduct some joint meetings.
Countries such as the United Kingdom argue that the SCP is only about harmonisation, while other countries, particularly developing nations, see it as having a broader scope.