Objectives of the IGC

The Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property (IGC) was established to focus on two key areas:

Policy Development - The IGC has spent a number of years considering how the IP system could be used to protect traditional knowledge (TK), traditional cultural expressions (TCE) and genetic resources (GR). This draws on consultation with indigenous people, traditional and cultural communities and a wide range of interested parties in member states of WIPO.

Capacity building - WIPO provides legal and technical assistance to states, regional organisations and communities in order to strengthen IP systems. Capacity building involves improving technical infrastructure including database upgrades and training programs.

We take an active role in the IGC. In consultation with other relevant government departments, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Attorney General's Department, Australia plays a significant role in shaping these international discussions.

Activity in the IGC

  • Starting in late 2009, the committee has been working to develop a way to effectively protect genetic resources, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.
  • To complete this work, the committee is supported by Intersessional Working Groups of experts.
  • The first experts' group met to discuss traditional cultural expressions. This relates mainly to trade marks, copyright and arts and heritage issues. Experts refined the objectives, principles and draft provisions for protecting traditional cultural expressions for the next Committee meeting to consider.
  • Further working groups will meet to discuss traditional knowledge and genetic resources. These areas relate mainly to patents.
  • The recommendations of the committee will not necessarily become international law. The General Assembly of WIPO will review the work of the committee and decide whether or not to bring together a Diplomatic Conference on the issue. The status of the proposed international mechanism will be decided by the Diplomatic Conference.

WIPO has further information on the IGC.

Last Updated: 10/12/2012

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