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WIPO TREATY TO COMBAT BIOPIRACY : INDIA’S VIEW



  Jun 07, 2024

WIPO TREATY TO COMBAT BIOPIRACY : INDIA’S VIEW



Last week, at a conference in Geneva, the member states of the World Intellectual Property Organisation agreed on a new treaty aimed at preventing the for-profit piracy of traditional knowledge.

Biopiracy, where companies lift ideas from traditional knowledge and patent them, is a significant problem. For instance, a US company patented derivatives of the neem tree as pesticides, despite the plant’s properties being well-known to local communities in India. Similarly, attempts have been made to patent traditionally cultivated plant varieties, such as basmati rice and jasmine rice.

CORE PROVISIONS OF THE NEW TREATY

• Disclosure Requirements
• Patent applicants must disclose the origins of genetic resources or traditional knowledge involved.
• If the source is unknown, applicants must declare they genuinely don’t know it.
• Patent officers will provide guidance and opportunities to rectify any failures to disclose.
• This requirement is not retroactive and does not apply to previously granted patents.
• Sanctions and Remedies
• The treaty doesn’t allow for revoking or making patents unenforceable for non-disclosure.
• It permits other sanctions, such as fines, if there is fraudulent intent.
• Information Systems
• States are encouraged to establish databases of genetic resources and traditional knowledge in consultation with Indigenous peoples and local communities.
• These systems will help patent offices determine the novelty of applications.
• The treaty lacks clarity on who should own and control these information systems.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NEW TREATY

• Promotes Transparency and Fairness
• Mandating disclosure ensures that the origins of genetic resources and traditional knowledge are recognized and acknowledged.
• This transparency helps prevent companies from unfairly profiting from traditional knowledge.
• Deterrent Against Biopiracy
• Sanctions for fraudulent intent act as a deterrent against biopiracy, encouraging ethical behavior among companies.
• While the treaty doesn’t revoke patents, the possibility of fines provides a punitive measure to enforce compliance.
• Protects Indigenous Knowledge
• Establishing information systems can aid in preventing the misuse of traditional knowledge.
• Involving Indigenous peoples and local communities in creating these systems ensures their perspectives and rights are considered.
• Encourages Ethical Use of Resources
• By requiring disclosure and promoting transparency, the treaty encourages companies to engage in ethical practices when using genetic resources and traditional knowledge.
• This ethical engagement can lead to more equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of traditional knowledge.




SRIRAM’s



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