Case Studies and Conflicting Interests
Elgar Intellectual Property and Global Development series
Edited by Tania Bubela and E. Richard Gold
Chapter 2: WIPO, Genetic Resources and TK: The Evolution of a Formal Intellectual Property Agreement Protecting TK Associated with Genetic Resources
Charles Lawson INTRODUCTION Traditional knowledge (TK), genetic resources (GRs) and traditional cultural expressions/expressions of folklore (TCEs) have been the subject of textbased negotiations to develop an international legal instrument by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) since October 2000.1 The evolving concern about these matters is recognition that GRs (and their associated TK) and TCEs (including TK) have developed increased economic, scientific, cultural and commercial values, and that intellectual property is increasingly relevant and important to their protection and exploitation.2 WIPO’s first tentative step in this area3 was to convene the Intergovernmental Committee 1 World Intellectual Property Organization General Assembly, Twenty-Sixth WIPO General Assembly: Report, WO/GA/26/10 (Geneva: WIPO, 2000) 71 [WIPO, ‘26 GA report’]; World Intellectual Property Organization General Assembly, Matters Concerning Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, WO/GA/26/6 (Geneva: WIPO, 2000) 4–19 [WIPO, ‘TK and Folklore’]. 2 See Ibid at 1–2; WIPO ‘26 GA report’, supra note 1 at 28–70; World Intellectual Property Organization General Assembly, Traditional Knowledge and the need to give it Adequate Intellectual Property Protection, WO/GA/26/9 (Geneva: WIPO, 2000) 3–4 and Annex I [WIPO, ‘IP Protection of TK’]. 3 There are a number of international bodies considering these intellectual property related issues under conventions that directly or indirectly affect GRs and TK: see International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (993 U.N.T.S. 3, adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966, entered into force 3 January 1976, in...
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