he World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) consists of 191 member states globally. These member states directly govern the activities of the Organization in terms of budget and objectives.
The WIPO mainly serves to protect the intellectual property of people on an individual, business and governmental basis. The goal of the Organization is to increase the spread and encouragement of intellectual property protection. The topics before the World Intellectual Property Organization are “Defining and Measuring Access to Knowledge in the Age of Intellectual Property” and “Protecting Indigenous People’s Intellectual Property in Documenting Traditional Medical Knowledge”.Defining and Measuring Access to Knowledge in the Age of Intellectual Property According to the WIPO, intellectual property is referred to the ownership of any creations to the mind including inventions, literary works and names/images used for commercial purposes. The organization further divides the general intellectual property into industrial property and copyright. The former is expressed when an individual or company owns a patent for invention or trademark while the latter is demonstrated through literary works such as books, films, artistic displays, music and design. The rights of intellectual property allow individuals to use their own work or investment to gain personal benefit. More importantly, these rights are explicitly defined in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and allow the right to personal gain from the production of productions.
Intellectual property is promoted to enhance the rate at which inventions are being discovered and increase the progress of humanity in the areas of technology and medicine. The promotion of intellectual property also leads to an evident economic growth, causing an increase in employment rates and enhancement to quality of life. Since the recognition of Intellectual Property(IP) at the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property in 1883 and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works in 1886, countries have since created laws to protect IP. The protection of IP allows the recognition of individuals and their respective innovations, inventions and creations. Creativity and innovation are also strongly promoted through the protection of IP and effectively lead to social and economic development on a long term basis. Access to Knowledge (A2K) is a reference to the rights that an individual has when creating, administering and obtaining raw information. A2K is best described as a group of civil societies and governments coming together and agreeing on an idea that access to knowledge should be open to the public. This includes individuals acquiring access to government intel and participating in civic affairs.
According to the U.S Trade Representative “Special 301 Notorious Markets”, Russia, among other countries, engages in significant intellectual property rights violations. However, U.
S firms have been attempting at protecting their IP in Russia by introducing trademarks with the Rospatent(Federal Service for Intellectual Property) and by also recording intellectual property in the Russian Federal Customs Service’s IPR Register. Russia has also been working towards IPR protection through the creation of R&D structures. These structures limit the number of people that have access to confidential information and thus lower the chances of a security breach and exploitation. However, this may be viewed as a shortcoming due to the fact that when employees leave their jobs they carry the confidential knowledge and security vulnerabilities with them to their next jobs. Outsourcing companies which provide services to customers attempt at following IP laws to ensure their reputation and livelihood. II.
Protecting Indigenous People’s Intellectual Property in Documenting Traditional Medical KnowledgeTraditional Medicine (TM) consists of many health care services and products that have been used over a long period of time by native people. Herbs that are extracted from the forests can be potential treatment for HIV and certain types of cancer. However, because these medicines are natural and are not creations from the human mind, they are not protected by intellectual property rights. Traditional medicine also accommodates the knowledge of medicine developed by indigenous and native cultures as it includes techniques which are designed to treat illnesses through plants, animals and spiritual therapies. Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) focuses on the person as a whole and usually supplements conventional medicine with emotional and spiritual treatment such as meditation and yoga.
The implementation of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) could help indigenous people tremendously as they currently experience exploitation to their intellectual property. The IPRs would mean that the indigenous people would have a documented record of their creations and discoveries in terms of natural medicine, decreasing the likelihood of governmental exploitation. Documenting traditional knowledge allows the certain piece of knowledge to be preserved in a form that is accessible by others. When the traditional medical knowledge is documented, it may be used to prevent illegitimate patents. This can be exploited by third parties as the legal documentation does not prevent their access. Indigenous people usually have a stronger understanding of the medicine that has been traditionally used in a country and thus may help utilize it more effectively. Some of these people have actually developed certain medications like the captopril drug that was founded by a Brazilian tribe. The drug is widely used to treat heart failure and hypertension but never led to any benefits being received by the tribe.
Other instances have also proven that indigenous people require urgent attention in terms of their intellectual property and medical knowledge documentation. Russian indigenous groups like the Buryats have been lacking the protection of medical knowledge that they require. Buryats have been exploited through the widespread ‘stealing’ of their medical discoveries and therefore need protection towards medical knowledge exploitation. Russia has implemented customary laws and practices that define any obligations over the right to hold traditional medical knowledge and protect medical knowledge from abuse.
The introduction of laws that determine how medical knowledge is allowed to be used and the extent as well proves that Russia is attempting at protecting the medical knowledge of indigenous people. Furthermore, the Russian Federation has adopted methods of documentation to also prevent the exploitation of traditional medical knowledge by outsiders.