FICPI reported last year on the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore. This body was established under the auspices of WIPO to seek ways in which protection could be afforded to genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. Since its inception in 2001, very slow progress has been made in its negotiations.

FICPI has been represented at the meetings since 2001 and it passed  a resolution in 2004 on the proposed disclosure requirement for genetic resources (

In an exciting turn of events, it was announced in 2022 that the General Assembly of WIPO had decided to hold a Diplomatic Conference (“Dip Con”) in 2024 to consider this issue.  In preparation for the Dip Con, the IGC on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore met in a Special Session in Geneva from 4-8 September 2023.  This event was also attended by FIPCI and reported on here - pages 10-11.

The Dip Con, the culmination of more than two decades of negotiations, will be convened by WIPO at its Geneva headquarters from 13-24 May 2024, to finalise the International Legal Instrument on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, and Traditional Knowledge Associated with Genetic Resources.

The intention of the proposed instrument is to improve the effectiveness, transparency, and integrity of the patent system, and prevent patents being granted on inventions using genetic resources and traditional knowledge which are not novel or inventive.  However, grave concerns have arisen from both sides, countries that may be seen as being sources of genetic resources and traditional knowledge, and countries which may be seen as wishing to create and commercialise products potentially arising from these.

During the Special Session last year, very little progress was made on agreeing the text of the instrument.  The success of the Dip Con is thus not a foregone conclusion, and much will depend on the ability of the diplomats to engage in a constructive manner, and the facilitators to encourage this.

Numerous observer groups will also be in attendance, including FICPI. The observers hope to contribute through providing comments during the sessions and interacting with the delegates.  Since the delegates are expected to be diplomats, it may be that many do not have an in depth understanding of intellectual property, and the nuances associated with certain concepts or proposals may not be apparent to them. Interactions with knowledgeable observers may therefore be valuable in obtaining meaningful results.

There is an opportunity for FICPI to contribute directly to the negotiations around genetic resources and IP to influence the policy and eventual agreement.

Rowan Joseph has been monitoring this topic for FICPI and attended the Special Session last year on behalf of FICPI. He will attend the diplomatic conference as FICPI’s representative and will be supported by a strong FIPCI team to which he will be providing regular updates.

Next steps

Any of the national groups which are aware of their intellectual property office having expressed a position on this topic, should please feed that information through to Rowan Joseph.

If you would like to become involved in this topic, please contact Robert Watson or Rowan Joseph.

Read more about the Diplomatic Conference, including official WIPO documents, at .



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