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June 1 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


The recently concluded World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaty on Intellectual Property (IP), Genetic Resources (GRs), and Associated Traditional Knowledge (ATK) marks a significant achievement for countries of the global South, including India.  

Adopted by a consensus of over 150 countries, the treaty aims to balance the rights of biodiversity-rich nations with the global IP system.  

This treaty represents a landmark in protecting traditional knowledge and genetic resources, ensuring their rightful recognition and preventing their misappropriation. 

What Does the WIPO Treaty Entail? 

Protection of Biodiversity 

  • Balancing Rights: The treaty balances the rights of biodiversity-rich countries with the global IP system. 
  • Recognition: For the first time, traditional knowledge and wisdom systems are formally recognized within the global IP framework. 

Inclusive Innovation 

  • Local Communities: Promotes inclusive innovation by acknowledging the connection between local communities and their genetic resources and traditional knowledge. 

Disclosure Requirements 

  • Mandatory Disclosure: Contracting parties must enforce mandatory disclosure obligations for patent applicants. 
  • Country of Origin: Applicants must disclose the country of origin or source of the genetic resources used in their inventions. 

Significance for India and the Global South 


  • Biodiversity Hotspot: India’s rich biodiversity and traditional knowledge are now inscribed in the global IP system. 
  • Preventing Misappropriation: The treaty prevents misappropriation of Indian genetic resources and traditional knowledge by establishing mandatory disclosure obligations. 

Global Standards 

  • Provider Countries: Sets unprecedented global standards for countries providing genetic resources and traditional knowledge. 

Global South 

  • Traditional Knowledge Protection: Protects the wealth of traditional knowledge in the Global South from misappropriation. 
  • Combating Biopiracy: Establishes a legal framework to prevent unauthorized commercial exploitation of genetic resources and traditional knowledge. 
  • Past Cases Surrounding Traditional Knowledge and Genetic Resources in IPR 

Traditional Knowledge 

  • Turmeric Case: A US patent granted for turmeric powder for wound healing was revoked after India provided prior art evidence. 
  • Neem Case: A patent for using azadirachtin from neem was challenged and ultimately revoked by the European Patent Office due to lack of innovation. 

Genetic Resources 

  • Wheat Varieties Case: Indian wheat varieties were patented by a European company, but the patents were revoked after Indian authorities provided evidence of their origin. 
  • Basmati Rice Case: A US company’s patent for Basmati rice was narrowed down after admitting they didn’t invent Basmati rice. 

India’s Initiatives  

Traditional Knowledge 

Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) 

  • Database: A comprehensive database of medicinal formulations. 
  • Establishment: Created in 2001 to protect India’s traditional remedies from being patented erroneously. 
  • Impact: TKDL has been pivotal in protecting traditional medicinal systems globally. 

Patents (Amendment) Act, 2005 

  • Disclosure Obligation: Requires patent applicants to disclose the origin of biological resources used in inventions. 

Trademark Act, 1999 

  • Differentiation: Protects agricultural and biological products, allowing indigenous groups to register trademarks. 

Biological Diversity Act, 2002 

  • Conservation and Sustainable Use: Regulates access to biological resources and associated traditional knowledge to ensure fair benefit-sharing. 

Geographical Indications (GI) 

  • Protection of Products: Protects products unique to a region, ensuring that only authorized users can use the GI name. 

Genetic Resources 

National Gene Bank 

  • Conservation: Conserves the genetic diversity of plants. 

Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001 

  • Benefit-sharing: Ensures fair commercial gains for farmers and plant breeders providing genetic resources. 

National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) 

  • Diversity Conservation: Conserves and protects the genetic diversity of cultivated plants. 

National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR) 

  • Sustainable Development: Conserves and utilizes animal genetic resources for sustainable livestock development. 

Microbial and Insect Biodiversity 

  • NBAII: A nodal agency for the collection, conservation, and utilization of agriculturally important insect resources. 


India, with its rich biodiversity and traditional wisdom, stands to gain significantly from this treaty, which helps prevent the misappropriation of its resources and knowledge.  

Through various national initiatives, India continues to safeguard its traditional knowledge and genetic resources, setting a precedent for other countries to follow. 


June 1
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category:
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