Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts?

A critical reflection on the WIPO IGC

Authored by: Daniel F. Robinson

Routledge Handbook of Biodiversity and the Law

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138693302
eBook ISBN: 9781315530857
Adobe ISBN:


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The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) established the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) in 2000. The IGC emerged out of a number of developments both outside WIPO and within it. As Abdel-Latif (2017) explains, a proposal on genetic resources put forward by developing countries threatened to derail the Diplomatic Conference convened to adopt the Patent Law Treaty (PLT). The developing countries involved ultimately withdrew their proposal, enabling a successful adoption of the PLT, in exchange for a commitment from developed countries that discussions regarding the issues they had raised would continue at WIPO in the framework of an especially dedicated body. The work of WIPO and UNESCO on folklore since the 1960s resulted in multiple Conventions and model provisions that also influenced the IGC. The relationship between intellectual property (IP), genetic resources (GRs) and traditional knowledge (TK) also came into focus following the adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) and of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS, 1995) (see Lawson, 2017 and Abdel-Latif, 2017).

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