The 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 human creation such as inventions, literary works and names/images used for commercial purposes. The organization divides any intellectual property into industrial property which is protected by an individual or company due to ownership of a patent of an invention or a trademark while copyright laws exist for protection of literary works like books, films, artistic displays, music and design.
Each of these intellectual property is given rights which are explicitly stated in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Intellectual property is promoted globally to enhance invention discovery rate and progression in the fields of technology and medicine. Due to the importance of this issue, countries have created laws to protect IP. The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works were signed to protect IP. The protection of IP allows individuals to be recognized for their 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. The Access to Knowledge (A2K) is a reference to the rights that an individual has when creating, administering or 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”, the Russian Federation, among other countries, engages in significant intellectual property rights violations. However, the Russian Federation has been successful at protecting intellectual property through their introduction of trademark laws with the Rospatent (Federal Service for Intellectual Property). The Federation has also been recording IP in the Russian Federal Customs Service’s IPR Register . It has also been working towards IPR protection through the creation of Research & Development 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.
Although this may be viewed as a shortcoming due to the fact that employees carry confidential knowledge and security vulnerabilities with them to their next jobs, it has attracted major U.S. firms and other companies worldwide. Outsourcing companies have been cautious at following IP laws to ensure their reputation and livelihood in the Russian Federation. In terms of Access to Knowledge, the Russian Federation recently implemented a research project called LOD (Linked Open Data Russia) Russia which allows scientists to access and analyze any scientific data. Since 2011, scientists in the Russian Federation have been able to access any data related to nanotechnology and mathematics much easier. Due to the Head of the Rospatent, the number of inventions by Russian scientists increased by 17% in the first half of 2016 compared to the entire year of 2015.
The Russian Federation believes that Access to Knowledge should be granted accordingly and that the protection of intellectual property is important.II. Protecting Indigenous People’s Intellectual Property in Documenting Traditional Medical KnowledgeTraditional Medicine (TM) usually refers to the different medicine-related products that have been used over a long period of time by native people. It also acknowledges medicine developed by indigenous people through spiritual therapy techniques used to treat animals and humans.
These medicines include herbs that are extracted from the forests which could be potential treatment for serious illnesses like HIV and certain types of cancer. However, because these medicines are natural and are not creations of the human mind, they are not protected by intellectual property rights. Due to the importance of traditional medicine and its uses, Intellectual Property (IP) of the indigenous people should be documented.Documenting intellectual property allows a certain piece of knowledge to be preserved in a form that is accessible by others. The documentation of the IP would mean that the indigenous people have a record of their creations and discoveries in terms of natural medicine, decreasing the likelihood of governmental exploitation.
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.