Historic 27th WIPO Treaty: WIPO Treaty on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge

WIPO member states have adopted a new Treaty related to intellectual property, genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, marking the 27th WIPO treaty, and the first in over a decade.

Concluding a 25-year negotiating journey, WIPO Director General Daren Tang welcomed the adoption of the treaty, and noted

“Today we made history in many ways. This is not just the first new WIPO Treaty in over a decade but also the first one that deals with genetic resources and traditional knowledge held by Indigenous Peoples as well as local communities. Through this, we are showing that the IP system can continue to incentivize innovation while evolving in a more inclusive way, responding to the needs of all countries and their communities.”

The WIPO diplomatic conference in Geneva was divided into two committees: Main Committee I and II. Main Committee I was chaired by the General Manager, Policy and Stakeholder Group, Ms. Jodie McAlister, IP Australia.

At the conclusion of the conference, the treaty was sent to the conference plenary for adoption and opened for signature. A signing ceremony was scheduled for 24 May 2024, and a copy of the treaty can be found here.

Once the treaty comes into force with 15 contracting parties, it will establish a new disclosure requirement for applicants of patent applications. If the invention is based on genetic resources or traditional knowledge, the applicant must disclose the country of origin or source of the genetic resources, and the Indigenous Peoples who provided the traditional knowledge.

This is an important step in enhancing transparency and ensuring that the contribution of Indigenous People, the contribution in some cases centuries old, is recognised and respected. This step also acknowledges their contribution to innovation over the centuries through genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.

Australia and New Zealand are expected to become signatories to the treaty. There was strong support from countries in South America, Africa and the European Union.

By James Wallace

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