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New WIPO Treaty on Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge Approved

Member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) have approved a groundbreaking treaty that addresses the intersection between intellectual property, more specifically patents, and genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. This historic milestone, achieved after two decades of negotiations, was finalized at the Diplomatic Conference chaired by Ambassador Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the World Trade Organization. The negotiations took place between May 13 and 24, 2024, with significant participation by the Brazilian delegation, discussing specific provisions to protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

Genetic resources include materials of plant, animal, microbial, and even digital genetic origin. The Treaty will require applicants for patent applications whose inventions are based on genetic resources or associated traditional knowledge to disclose the country of origin of those resources or the indigenous/local community that provided the traditional knowledge. Traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, passed down from generation to generation, can be used in the development of inventions that will be subject to patent protection. In this sense, this Treaty ensures adequate recognition of the contributions of traditional communities to technological innovations.

Attention points:

(1) This Treaty will enter into force three months after 15 eligible parties have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession;

(2) The Treaty defines as “Source of genetic resources” any source from which the applicant has obtained the genetic resources, including the Genbank. In this connection, Digital Sequence Information would be included;

(3) The Contracting Party will have an opportunity to rectify a failure to disclose the required information regarding genetic resources before implementing sanctions or directing remedies; and

(4) The obligations of the present Treaty will not be imposed on patent applications which have been filed prior to the entry into force of this Treaty.

In addition to reinforcing the protection of traditional knowledge, the new Treaty represents a significant step forward in the protection of the rights of all parties involved, demonstrating that the IP system can evolve to meet contemporary innovation needs while respecting nature and its local communities, with the conservation of biological diversity, preservation of genetic resources and their sustainable use.

If you need more information on this subject, please contact us at mail@kasznarleonardos.com.

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