> Intellectual property
> Intellectual property and biodiversity
Intellectual property in the WTO is known as “TRIPS” — trade-related
aspects of intellectual property rights.
The links between the TRIPS Agreement and the environment are complex
and many of the issues involved are contentious. Discussions on these
issues are mainly taking place in the TRIPS Council and in consultations
on “outstanding implementation issues” — a set of concerns that
developing countries and others have raised about the implementation of
the present WTO agreements.
These discussions now come under the 2001 Doha ministerial mandate. The
Doha Ministerial Declaration mandated the Trade and Environment
Committee to look at the relevant provisions of the TRIPS Agreement.
Since then, the committee’s discussions have mainly revolved around the
relationship between the WTO TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD).
On this, three main views have been expressed in the Trade and
Environment Committee. A group of developing countries, with wide
support from other developing countries, have reiterated their proposal
on amending the TRIPS Agreement to require patent applications to
disclose the source of biological materials (and any traditional
knowledge) used in the inventions. The aim is twofold:
to avoid patents being issued for inventions that are not genuinely
new (“erroneous patents”)
to help ensure that inventors have complied with countries’
regulations on receiving permission to access the biological resources
and on sharing the benefits with the owners of those resources
Some others take the view that the case has not been made and that such
a proposal is either necessary or appropriate in achieving the shared
objectives in this area, which can be most effectively realized in other
ways without involving the patent system.
In between these two positions, support has been expressed for a more
limited patent disclosure requirement at the international level,
restricted to the origin or source of genetic material and related
traditional knowledge and without substantive implications for
> Details of these proposals