'Recognition of Traditional Knowledge within the Patent System' and other documents prepared by WIPO for the November Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Re

September 13, 2004

Geneva, 10 Sep 2004

I. OVERVIEW

1. The Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore ("the Committee") has developed several defensive protection mechanisms that aim to enhance the recognition of traditional knowledge (TK) within the patent system, and thus to reduce the practical likelihood that patents will be allowed that incorrectly claim inventions that make use of TK and genetic resources. These are outlined fully in documents WIPO/GRTKF/IC/5/6 and WIPO/GRTKF/IC/6/8.

2. It is now widely understood that defensive protection measures should not be undertaken in isolation, nor without prior informed consent of concerned TK holders, especially since it can entail publication or further dissemination of TK to the detriment of TK holders. In particular, holders of TK should not disclose their TK to third parties or to undertake or consent to its documentation or publication without fully considering the implications and possible damage to their interests. At the same time, some TK is already disclosed, and is available and accessible. There is increasing interest in ensuring that patent authorities take greater account of this disclosed TK during search and examination relating to the validity of patent applications. With this background, the Committee decided at its sixth session to build on its existing work and to develop draft recommendations for patent authorities.

3. In line with the decisions of the Committee, a questionnaire (WIPO/GRTKF/IC/Q.5) has been circulated to collect relevant information that would assist in future work, and in particular the development of recommendations. The present document reports on the background to the issue and provides a possible structure for the proposed recommendations for consideration by the Committee. For ease of reference, questionnaire WIPO/GRTKF/IC/Q.5 is also annexed to this document. An update on responses to the questionnaire will be provided as an addendum to this document.

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