Intellectual property rights and benefit sharing from marine genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction: current discussions and regulatory options
  • 1 Research Fellow, International Biodiversity Governance, Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), Paris, France

This article considers key aspects of the law of patents, trade secrets, copyrights and databases by explaining why they are relevant to the utilization of marine genetic resources (MGRs) (and their intangible informational contents) that are sourced from areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) in the context of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It also provides an assessment of key lessons learned from global regimes on genetic resources in the food and agriculture and health sectors, with a particular focus on intellectual property (IP) management, benefit sharing and the possible use of standard material transfer agreements. It also explains the legal and policy linkage between the proposal to launch the negotiation of a new international instrument under UNCLOS (inter alia to provide an international framework for the sharing of the benefits arising from MGRs in ABNJ) and the possible establishment of a Global Multilateral Benefit-Sharing Mechanism under the Nagoya Protocol. This article concludes that the appropriate management of intellectual property assets that arise from marine scientific research, including bioprospecting, needs to be considered carefully in the context of promoting research and innovation, and their widest possible dissemination for the advancement of science as a global public good.

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