Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen (fourth from left), Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha (second from left), World Intellectual Property Organisation Assistant Director General Minelik Getahun (third from left) and Industry and Commerce Ministry Secretary Chinthana Lokuhetti (fourth from right) at the launch of pioneering G15 Colombo session yesterday at Jaic Hilton
By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
In an effort to safeguard the intellectual property (IP) rights of traditional knowledge and cultural expressions (TK & TCE), a group of international technical experts yesterday kicked off the process of setting up legal instruments to ensure effective protection of the intangible assets that tend to replicated without due credit.
Co-organised by the G15 country grouping, World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and Government of Sri Lanka, a technical seminar that will be held over two days, will explore the options, issues and experiences in developing national policies and legislations on IP and the protection of TK and TCE.
According to the WIPO, the objective of protection for TK and TCE include trading opportunities and sustainable economic development, including promotion of equitable benefit-sharing from use of TK/TCE and prevention and repression of misappropriation and unauthorized exploitation of TK/TCE.
It would aim to protect tradition-based creativity and innovation, recognize the value of and promotion of respect for TK/TCE and safeguard the cultural identity and value of communities.
Furthermore, the IP protection will look into the prevention of false and misleading claims of authenticity and origin, whilst also preventing third party failure to acknowledge the source.
According to the WIPO, developing an international legal instrument would define what is meant by TK and TCE, rights of holders, manner in which competing claims by communities would be resolved and rights and exceptions to be applied.
It was shared that during the WIPO negotiations many argue the use of traditional knowledge ought to be subject to free, prior and informed consent, especially for sacred and secret materials. However, it was stated by the WIPO that a section has expressed fears that granting exclusive control over traditional cultures could stifle innovation, diminish the public domain and be challenging to implement in practice.
The session launched yesterday with G15 countries is a follow up to the group’s Algeria session in 2016 on the same subject area.
Joining the Colombo session was Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, WIPO Assistant Director General Minelik Getahun, Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, Head of G15 Secretariat Gihan Indraguptha and Intellectual Property Advisory Commission of Sri Lanka (IPACSL) Chairperson Suganthie Kadirgamar.
Ambassador Getahun is the highest ranking official from the WIPO to visit Sri Lanka since the visit of WIPO Director General Dr. Francis Gurry in 2013.
During the inauguration Gethaun stressed the seminar will not result in any ‘final conclusion’ or a ‘formal report’ but will prepare a platform based on exchange of experiences by the member countries. He went on to state that based on the broad concepts outlined in Constantine Conference, the Colombo session will go for policy formulation and implementation as well as exchange of national experiences.