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IPRs, as the term suggests, accord legal protection to concepts and data that square measure wont to develop new inventions or processes. These rights modify the holder to exclude imitators from selling such inventions or processes for such that time; in exchange, the holder is needed to disclose the formula or plan behind the product/process. The declared purpose of IPRs is to stimulate innovation, by giving higher financial returns than the market otherwise may offer. Whereas IPRs like copyrights, patents, and trademarks are centuries old, the extension of IPRs to living entities and attendant knowledge/technologies occurred solely comparatively recently. In 1930, the United States Plant Patent Act was passed, that accorded IPRs to asexually reproduced plant varieties. Many different countries afterwards extended some variety of protection to plant varieties, till in 1961, a global Convention for the Protection of latest sorts of Plants was signed. Most signatories were industrial countries, who had also formed a Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). This legal document came into force in 1968.

Plant varieties or breeders’ rights (PVRs/PBRs) provide the holder of the proper restricted restrictive powers over the selling of ‘their’ varieties. Until recently, most countries allowed farmers and different breeders to be exempted from such rights, as long as they failed to take pleasure in branded commercial transactions. However, a 1991 modification to the UPOV has tightened the noncompetitive nature of PVRs/PBRs, and a few countries have just about eliminated the exemptions for farmers and breeders.

Historically, plant varieties had been exempted from the international patent regime in deference to farmers’ ancient practices of saving and exchanging seeds. Industrialized countries, however, are debating the deserves of PBRs as a variety of monopoly that will encourage plant-breeding activity. This culminated within the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV Convention) in 1978, which as indicated on top of, was amended in 1991, any strengthening the noncompetitive hold of plant breeders. Until recently, the UPOV Convention was primarily comprised of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. However, the journey Agreement currently extends the need to guard plant selection property rights to any or all international organization Member States.

Role of IPR in Protection of Biodiversity

Additionally, in several countries, patents with full noncompetitive restrictions square measure currently applicable to plant varieties, microorganisms, and genetically changed animals. In 1972, the United States Supreme Court recognized biologist Ananda Chakrabarty’s patent claim for a genetically built microorganism strain. This legitimized the read that something created by humans and not found in nature was patentable. Genetically altered animals, like the ill-famed ‘onco-mouse’ of university (bred for cancer research), were conjointly before long accorded patents. Finally, many patent claims are created, and a few granted, on human genetic material, together with material that has hardly been altered from its state of nature.

Until terribly recently, these plant rights were solely recognized in some countries, and that they couldn’t enforce these rights in different nations. However, this has modified with the sign language of the TRIPs Agreement.
Biodiversity describes the full variability gift among and among the species of living organisms in their natural habitats. This material possession Rights (IPR) regime is encouraging commercialization of seed development, monoculture, and protection of latest plant varieties, microorganisms, and genetically changed organisms.
Biological Diversity Act, 2002 of Asian nation has outlined varied terms.

“Biological Diversity” means that the variability among living organisms from all sources and therefore the ecological complexes of that they’re half and includes diversity among species or between species and of eco-systems. material possession Rights (IPR), because the term suggests, square measure meant to be rights to concepts and data, that square measure employed in new inventions or processes. These rights modify the holder to exclude imitators from selling such inventions or processes for such that amount of time; in exchange the holder is needed to disclose the formula or plan behind the product/process. The impact of IPR is thus monopoly over industrial exploitation of the thought /information, for a restricted amount of your time. The declared purpose of IPRs is to stimulate innovation, by giving higher financial returns than the market otherwise may offer. In order to comply with the TRIPs (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) and CBD (convention on Biological Diversity) India has passed Indian Patent (Second Amendment) Act, 2002 and also the Biological Diversity Bill, 2002 respectively. According to this Amendment Act, 2002 the length of the term of patent has been extended to 20 years for all product and process patents. Currently microorganisms are going to be patentable subject in India.


India’s record in agro-biodiversity is equally spectacular. There are 167 crop species and 320 species of wild crop relatives and several other species of domesticated animals. India is taken into account to be the centre of origin of an enormous and varied heritage of biodiversity and ranks seventh in terms of contribution to world agriculture.


The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) came into force way back in 1993 with associate degree objective to stop unfair exploitation of bio wealth and traditional knowledge of developing countries by the signatories. The aims of CBD are:

  • Sovereign rights of members on their genetic resources,
  •  Prior consent from the country of origin to facilitate foreign access,
  •  Equitable sharing of advantages and transfer of technology at intervals the members,
  •  IPR regime should not negate the CBD’s objectives.
  • The FAO Global Plan of Action focuses on the fact that the primary mechanism to shield the rights of the suppliers of genetic resources is that the rights of farmers. However, the CBD entails a wide range of beneficiaries. CBD offers minimum guidance in context of the character and mixture of advantages, what constitutes a good and equitable share and who all are the beneficiaries.


The IPR regime plays a significant role in protecting information. The data within the genetic resources has high industrial worth. IPR could be a non-public right. As an incentive to the creator for innovation, the grant the holder the exclusive rights to stop alternative from employing a product or a process. The rights granted by patent allow the holder to limit who can use the resources, and so claim edges of exploitation. The patent system contemplated by the TRIPS Agreement, for example, permits the holder of a product patent to stop third parties from creating, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the product.

Thus, IPR defines who will use the genetic resources and impact the distribution of advantages flowing from the use. IPR can have an affect who shares within the advantages arising from genetic resources, with implication within the conservation and use of biodiversity. As a result of the value associated with IPRs, there is increasing pressure by industrial interests to gain intellectual property rights over genetic resources. This pressure, and also the ensuring IPR systems, is raising challenges for policy-makers who seek to give effect to the objectives of the CBD.


The TRIPs Agreement includes many forms of IPR that impact biodiversity conservation together with patents, and “sui generis systems” for plant selection protection. Patent protection and sui generis systems defines who gains access to information regarding genetic resources, however the advantages are shared (including with traditional communities), and what technologies are developed and transferred with implications for conservation and property use of biological diversity.


The TRIPS Agreement needs Members to offer patent protection for inventions in all areas of technology, whether products or processes, that are new, involve an imaginative step, and are capable of commercial application (Article 27.1). This requirement, which is cast in broad terms, is subject to some necessary exceptions, which can be relevant to the thriving implementation of the objectives of the CBD. First, Members could exclude inventions from patentability wherever it’s necessary to “protect ordre public or morality, together with to shield human, animal or plant life or health or to avoid serious prejudice to the environment” (Article 27.2). Second, whereas Members are required to grant patents over micro-organisms as well as non-biological and essentially biological processes for the assembly of plants and animals, they are not required to grant patents over plants or animals (Article 27.3(b)). Third, Members could offer restricted exceptions to the exclusive rights conferred by patents, subject to certain qualifications (Article 30). Finally, Members could allow use of the patented invention by third parties without the authorization of the patent owner in certain circumstances (Article 31). So far, the scope and utility of those provisions in ensuring compatibility with CBD objectives remains unclear at the WTO.


The exception to patentability in Article 27.3(b) also gives rise to the requirement to offer sui generis protection over plant varieties. Article 27.3(b) offers that Members should provide protection for plant varieties, either in the form of patents or an “effective sui generis system”. A sui generis system is a system for the protection of plant varieties that’s chosen by the Member, and might be designed to accommodate the actual wants of that Member. Members may opt for a mix of patents and sui generis protection.

The interpretation and application of those provisions on plant selection protection can have important implications for the implementation of the CBD. However the rights to information are allocated under the TRIPS Agreement can impact on however edges from the utilization of genetic resources are shared. Sui generis protection may, provide a tool for implementing the CBD’s objectives, as well as access and profit sharing and technology transfer. Inappropriately defined, sui generis protection could frustrate the CBD objectives, significantly access and benefit sharing, the preservation of the practices of indigenous and native communities, and technology transfer.


The relationship between IPR and the TRIPs Agreement and CBD offers rise to the subsequent issues:

  •  Access to and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from the Utilisation of Genetic Resources  Access and profit sharing under the CBD could also be suffering from the IPR systems required by the TRIPS Agreement. Consequently, if the objectives of the CBD are to be achieved, IPR holders ought to have gained access to genetic resources with prior informed consent, on mutually agreed terms, and with provisions to guarantee fair and equitable sharing of benefits. This, however, isn’t perpetually the case. IPRs needed or permissible by the TRIPS Agreement may in certain circumstances undermine efforts to ensure equitable benefit sharing – in both countries that use genetic resources, which offer access to genetic resources.
  • Preservation of and Respect for the Knowledge, Innovations, and Practices of Indigenous and Local Communities – The existing IPR systems like patents could increase the chance of misappropriation of traditional knowledge. There is also concern that existing IPRs fail to provide positive incentives for native and indigenous communities to preserve and, if they need, to capitalise on their traditional knowledge. It is clear that existing IPR systems such as patents are mostly inappropriate to protect traditional knowledge: they are often expensive and tough to access, and are unable to safeguard traditional knowledge that is often communally held and passed through the generations. Other forms of IPRs, such as geographical indications, copyright and trademarks may be used by some communities, however their effectiveness and breadth of coverage is proscribed.
  •  Transfer of Technology – First, IPRs, as well as patents and sui generis systems for the protection of plant varieties, might have a vital impact on the types of technology developed and whether they are appropriate for “the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity or create use of genetic resources and do not cause significant harm to the environment”. In this context, technologies contemplated by the CBD embrace each those resulting directly from the use of genetic resources (e.g. biotechnology), and a broader class of technology “relevant to” conservation and property use of biodiversity (e.g. agriculture and land use technologies).
    Second, IPRs may also have a significant effect on access to and transfer of technology to developing countries on “fair and most favourable terms” as needed by the CBD. The TRIPS Agreement conjointly includes obligations relating to the transfer of technology, as well as its objectives in Article 7 (which define technology transfer as a fundamental objective of the TRIPS Agreement) and Article 66.2 (which require incentives to be established to encourage technology transfer to the least developed countries). As noted, however, little has been done to implement these provisions, and concern has been raised about the requirements of Article 27.3(b) relating to IPR protection over plants, microorganisms and micro-biological processes, and the consequent control of the elements of biological diversity.
  • Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity – The IPRs established pursuant to the TRIPS Agreement may have other effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. These impacts on biodiversity conservation are often indirect, and are difficult to measure with precision.


Hence, it may well be all over that there’s a noticeable legal lacuna within the international frameworks for shielding the standard resources. Further, the belongings to a good extent violate the indigenous people’s cognitive content. However, with the help of intellectual property laws itself, the exploitation of ancient resources are often restrained. Adequate penal provisions and compensation amounts should be prescribed within the enacted laws for curbing the exploitation of resources. There should be more cooperation between the international frameworks in regulation belongings rights and considering the worth of ancient resources. Further, by granting the geographical indication standing to a bunch of individuals, in turn, ensures in protective the correct of the folks and prevents more exploitation.

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May 2024