The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) has announced a formal tribal consultation and requested written comments with the stated purpose of informing federal engagement with the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) on the protection of the Genetic Resources (“GRs”), Traditional Knowledge (“TK”), and Traditional Cultural Expressions (“TCE”) of Indigenous Peoples across the world. Established in 2000, the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge, and Folklore (“IGC”) has undertaken text-based negotiations of an international legal instrument for the protection of TK, TCE, and GRs. WIPO just announced that it will host a Diplomatic Conference at its Geneva headquarters from May 13-24, 2024 that will serve as the final stage of these negotiations before the adoption of this international legal instrument.
As a result, USPTO has proposed to consult with tribal stakeholders through a series of webinars for federally recognized Tribal Nations and their proxies and a separate webinar series for state recognized Tribes and other Tribal members, Native Hawaiians, and intertribal associations. The webinar for federally recognized Tribal Nations occurred on January 17, 2024. In addition to these webinars, the USPTO seeks written comments regarding specific questions as set forth in the notice. Responses to comments are due on Friday, February 23, 2024.
Notably, the USPTO is also seeking comments and answers to specific questions from the public on these same negotiations and topics. The questions posed appear to be targeted at pharmaceutical and technology companies who regularly seek protection of intellectual property in areas that may encompass TK, TCE, and GRs. Thus, Tribal Nations are strongly encouraged to respond to the USPTO even if the response is geared toward general comments about the consultation process as a whole instead of answering the specific questions posed.
How to Participate in the Discussion Surrounding Indigenous Intellectual Property
Tribal Nations can participate in this discussion in several ways:
- Attend the tribal consultation webinars by registering HERE. (Please note that some of the sessions may have already occurred).
- Submit comments in response to the USPTO’s request by Friday, February 23, 2024.
- Apply for accreditation to participate as an observer of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge, and Folklore.
Please contact Nicole Grigg (firstname.lastname@example.org), Matthew Adams (email@example.com), or Sara Dutschke (firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information or to discuss how we may assist in your Nation’s participation in the USPTO’s tribal consultation process and/or in the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge, and Folklore.