Livemint’s Unnikrishnan reported recently that there has been a move in the Council of TRIPS to ensure compulsory disclosure, by patent applicants, of the origin of genetic materials used in their inventions. SpicyIP in one of its earlier posts had mentioned that the Indian Biological Diversity Act requires that any patenting of genetic material in
As the Livemint report points out, by quoting SpicyIP’s Aysha Shaukat (quoting ourselves once again!) that there have been several cases of Western pirates ripping of India’s biological resources without sharing the benefits with the local communities. Aysha gave the example of Naga Jolokia Pepper which originates from a Naga tribal community. The pepper had important medicinal value. A foreign institute researched on it, isolated the important genetic material and then disappeared with no news of follow on benefits. Another example given by Aysha in the Livemint report is Jeevani, an energy drink developed from a green plant grown in the Agastyar hills of Kerala. “In this case, despite the granting of a patent for the product to the Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute at Thiruvananthapuram, there are loopholes in the system that allow circumvention and misappropriation of the traditional knowledge pertaining to this patent by others.” “The traditional knowledge of Jeevani belongs to a tribal community. New York-based Nutrisciences Innovations LLC holds a trademark for this product, which is commercially very successful in the
So while the MPAA and Big Pharma are forever lamenting about the ripping off of their IP by Indians, even though they are making millions of dollars of profit, their compatriots are doing the same to our biological resources. Karma – what goes around, comes around.
The proposed TRIPS amendment however aims to put an end to this state of affairs. The amendment has been coming for quite sometime now. It was in the epochal Doha Declaration of 2001, which made development issues central to all WTO talks, that the issue of compatibility between the CBD and TRIPS was first brought about. In para 19 of the Declaration it was demanded that Article 27.3, the provision regarding patenting of plants, be reviewed.
The amendment was finally moved on the 23-24 of October, 2007. IP-Watch reports that “The total number of WTO members now co-sponsoring the amendment proposal would appear to be in the majority of the 151 WTO members, as there were 11 cosponsors before the 41-nation African Group signed on. But of the 50 countries in the LDC Group, 32 are in the WTO, 11 are in the accession process, and 7 have expressed interest in acceding, according to sources.”
However it is expected that there will be severe opposition from countries like the