For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Progress on folklore, culture, genetic resources: 'streamlining' in sight

Powerful folk medicine: although
no-one truly understands
the deep significance of the mantra
"Wipo Ompi", this incantation
is said to have great beneficial
powers ...
For those who enjoy acronyms and love glossaries, here's some good news.  A World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) media release, "IGC Makes Significant Progress, Sets the Stage for Working Groups on GRs and TK", brings news of significant progress -- though at this stage it's not entirely clear what direction that progress will take:
"Negotiators from WIPO’s 184 member states and other stakeholders made significant progress this week during a session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC [Merpel wonders, is "IGC" short for  "intergovernmental committee" or "intellectual property, genetic resources and cultural thingies"?]). In addition to advancing on key substantive issues, the IGC defined the work to be undertaken by two intersessional working groups on traditional knowledge (TK) and genetic resources (GRs) that will meet in February 2011.

...  The IGC has a mandate to conduct "text-based negotiations" to reach agreement on an international legal instrument (or instruments) that ensure the effective protection of TK, traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) and GRs. [This sounds good. Presumably "text-base negotiations mean that the national representatives and stakeholders can send each other emails instead of having to travel all the way to Geneva: this should help reduce carbon emissions a bit]

A major feature of this week’s session was the establishment of an open-ended drafting group to streamline articles on TCEs that had been developed by an intersessional working group (IWG 1) in July 2010. The articles developed by the drafting group, which are now less complex and contain fewer options and alternatives, were noted by the IGC and will be examined again by negotiators at the IGC’s next session in May 2011. The Chair was also mandated to undertake informal consultations to try to further refine the text and identify the key outstanding policy issues for consideration by the IGC, the main negotiating and decision-making body. The IGC will meet again from May 9 to 13, 2011.['Streamlining' of complex articles is an easy job once consensus can be reached as to the form which it should take; the reason why there are so many options and alternatives is that there so many reservations and anxieties that remain to be allayed. The negotiators may thus be a little busier than the draftsmen for a while]

The IGC also reviewed the draft articles on TK and transmitted them for consideration at the next IWG which will take place from February 21 to 25, 2011. Glossaries on TK and TCEs, to complement a glossary on genetic resources, will also be prepared to facilitate the negotiations [glossaries are long overdue and will be greatly welcome.  Even if there isn't a common understanding as what ought to be protected and how, the shared use of technical terms will help establish a situation in which owners, practitioners and would-be users and commercial exploiters of TK and TCEs know more precisely what it is that they are (dis)agreeing about].

The third IWG, to take place from February 28 to March 4, 2011, will address the subject of intellectual property and genetic resources. The Committee transmitted a series of existing documents to IWG 3, and suggested that IWG 3 prepare a draft text of objectives and principles as well as a draft list of options for future work. These would be transmitted for consideration by the Committee at its next session in May 2011. Discussions on genetic resources also saw the introduction of new proposals by the African Group and by Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, and the United States of America. [The Kat suspects that, in practice, this will be the most keenly-contested area since the possibility of financial reward is so great and the interest in sharing it is correspondingly high].

A fund-raising initiative for the WIPO Voluntary Fund for Accredited Indigenous and Local Communities was launched by WIPO at the session. South Africa pledged a contribution to the Fund. The Chair strongly encouraged other delegations to also contribute. This session also saw the accreditation of several new NGOs to the Committee.

A new publication “Intellectual Property and the Safeguarding of Traditional Cultures: Legal Issues and Practical Options for Museums, Libraries and Archives” was launched at the meeting [Does anyone have a copy? There isn't a link to it from the media release or from the IGC's webpage. The Kat will be happy to spread the word, assuming that it's spreadable ... STOP PRESS: The Kat's friend Monika Bruss has found it here. Many thanks, Monika!]. This publication offers intellectual property information for cultural institutions whose collections comprise TCEs and presents examples of best practices from around the world, drawn from various institutional and community experiences".

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