Tuesday, June 18, 2024

PH adopts historic treaty on IP, patent of indigenous communities

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) and 193 member-states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) made history on Friday, May 24, after achieving consensus to adopt a treaty on intellectual property (IP), genetic resources (GR) and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources (ATK).

Capping about 25 years of negotiations and ushering in a new and more inclusive global patent system, the treaty is the first WIPO-administered instrument to address the interface between patents, GR and ATK and include provisions specifically relating to Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

The treaty mainly aims to establish in international law a new disclosure requirement for patent applicants whose inventions are based on GR and its ATK. The disclosure is seen as a critical mechanism to combat misappropriation of GR and ATKs.

In the Philippines, one such mechanism is already in place through a joint administrative order with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

IPOPHL said the historic event marks “a win for inclusivity in the patent system” as it recognizes the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities over their GR and ATK — considered to be national cultural treasures in the Philippines and many countries.

“The treaty is a testament of our collaborative spirit that can empower the marginalized sectors, beyond national borders, while upholding a balanced IP system,” IPOPHL director general Rowel S. Barba said at the Diplomatic Conference held in Geneva from May 13 – 24, 2024.

Barba also reminded of the need for parties to be given “sufficient policy space” to adopt the treaty, considering the varying national circumstances of member-states to legislate and implement treaty provisions.

“In this context, we wish to advocate for a balanced approach in promoting the aims of the treaty and pursuing the ends of diversity which this very treaty stands for,” Barba said.

Following the adoption of the treaty, the IPOPHL chief said it will recommend to the Office of the President, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, for the Philippines to be a Contracting Party to put the treaty in motion in the country as a policy for nationwide implementation.

The new WIPO Treaty will enter into force three months after the ratification of 15 contracting parties.

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