Your source for expert commentary on IP management issues.
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Editor-in-Chief, Anatole Krattiger
Why This Topic Is Important
It is anticipated that biodiversity and indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge, as sources of discovery
similar in some ways to research, may be important sources of new technology for the future. While the
underlying dynamics are similar—involving documentation, protection, uncertainty, risk, rights,
investment, partnership, R&D, and marketing—there are legal issues that set these sources of new
knowledge apart. This section discusses approaches, policies, and mechanisms for managing
biodiversity as an input to R&D, within the context of the rapidly evolving international and national legal
frameworks for biodiversity resources and traditional knowledge.
Key Implications and Best Practices: Section 16
Given that IP management is heavily context specific, these Key Implications and Best Practices are intended as starting points to be adapted to specific needs and circumstances.
- Scientists and anyone else accessing biodiversity must ask, and answer, the following questions prior to initiating collecting activities: Under which conditions may I enter another sovereign state’s territory in my scientific capacity? Under which conditions may I collect biological material and related information? Under which conditions may I carry out or export biological material and related information from that sovereign state’s territory? Under which conditions may I make further use of collected biological material and related information?
- Scientists must be aware, not only of the biological and sociological value of indigenous or traditional knowledge and related genetic resources, but also of their potential commercial value. Hence, investigations and research ought to be conducted within guidelines set by the technology transfer office, for example, appropriate and timely disclosure of any potential inventions.
- interactions with foreign colleagues and collaborators ought to be established according to institute or university policy guidelines, guidelines that are established to both preserve and reap the full value of these national natural resources.
- When working with colleagues from foreign countries, you should be aware that those colleagues may be authorized to make collections of biological materials only under specified circumstances. Before proceeding with joint activities, check with your institution’s technology transfer office to make sure that all the requirements have been met.
- It is essential to understand the fundamental principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Access Benefit Sharing (ABS) regimes. These exist to both protect the resources of your country as well as to encourage collaborative projects in R&D that would foster a broad and equitable distribution of benefits flowing from the development of the country’s biological resources.
- The commonly held distinction between organic and biotechnology-based agriculture inhibits pragmatic approaches to creating agricultural management systems that build on local conditions, help alleviate poverty, respect local cultures and traditions, and benefit from a successful relationship with science. The world has much to gain by reconciling organic and biotechnology-based agriculture though realizing any gain will have to deal with the “power structures of knowledge,” and overcome limitations imposed by those people who maintain the distinctions.
Access and Benefit Sharing: Illustrated Procedures for the Collection and Importation of Biological Materials
by Carl-Gustaf Thornström, Lars Björk