WIPO TREATY (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Economy/Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     27th May 2024        
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Context: The Treaty on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, and Traditional Knowledge was recently adopted at the Diplomatic Conference under the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva.

WIPO Treaty on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, and Traditional Knowledge

  • About: Under the treaty, it will be mandatory for patent applicants to disclose country of origin or source of genetic resources if the claimed invention is based on those materials or associated traditional knowledge.

o The treaty will provide additional protection for Indian genetic resources and traditional knowledge. Although these are currently protected within India, they are prone to misappropriation in countries, which do not have disclosure obligations.

  • Significance: It is a win for countries of the global South and for India, which is a mega biodiversity hotspot with abundance of traditional knowledge, and wisdom.

o This is the 27th treaty under WIPO and the first in the last 10 years.

  • Importance to India: The treaty is important to India as the country holds 7-8 percent of global biodiversity and a rich repertoire of knowledge based on these genetic resources.

o The treaty marks a big win for India and the global south, which has long been proponents of this instrument. 

  • Protection for Indian Resources: This will offer added protection to Indian genetic resources and traditional knowledge, which, while currently protected in India, are prone to misappropriation in countries that do not have disclosure obligations.
  • Current State of Disclosure Obligations: At present, only 35 countries have some form of disclosure obligations, most of which are not mandatory and lack appropriate sanctions or remedies for effective implementation.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

  • About: It is the global forum for intellectual property (IP) services, policy, information, and cooperation.
  • Formation: 1967.
  • Funding: It is a self-funding agency of the United Nations. It is one of the 15 specialized agencies of the United Nations (UN).
  • Members: 193 members.
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Mission: To lead the development of a balanced and effective international IP system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all.
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