[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 57 (Thursday, March 24, 2016)]
[Pages 15694-15695]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-06681]



 Patent and Trademark Office

[Docket No.: PTO-P-2016-0008]

Request for Information Related to Intellectual Property, Genetic 
Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge

AGENCY: United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce.

ACTION: Request for Comments.


SUMMARY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is 
requesting information from its stakeholders regarding issues to be 
discussed in upcoming World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) 
meetings related to intellectual property, genetic resources, and 
associated traditional knowledge.

DATES: Submission Deadline Date: To be ensured of consideration, 
submissions must be received on or before May 23, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Written submissions should be sent by electronic mail over 
the Internet addressed to: [email protected]. Submissions may 
also be submitted by postal mail addressed to: Director of the United 
States Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 
22313-1450, marked to the attention of Karin Ferriter, Office of Policy 
and International Affairs. Although submissions may be sent by postal 
mail, the USPTO prefers to receive submissions by electronic mail 
message over the Internet because sharing submissions with the public 
is more easily accomplished.
    Electronic submissions are preferred to be formatted in plain text, 
but also may be submitted in ADOBE[supreg] portable document format or 
MICROSOFT WORD[supreg] format. Submissions not sent electronically 
should be on paper in a format that facilitates convenient digital 
scanning into ADOBE[supreg] portable document format.
    Timely filed submissions will be available for public inspection at 
the Office of Policy and International Affairs, currently located in 
Madison West, Tenth Floor, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, Virginia 
22314. Submissions also will be available for viewing via the USPTO's 
Internet Web site (http://www.uspto.gov/patents-getting-started/international-protection/patent-policy). Because submissions will be 
made available for public inspection, information that the submitter 
does not desire to make public, such as an address or phone number, 
should not be included. It would be helpful to the USPTO if written 
submissions include the following information: (1) The name and 
affiliation of the individual responding; and (2) an indication of 
whether submissions offered represent the views of the respondent's 
organization or are the respondent's personal views.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karin Ferriter, Attorney-Advisor 
(telephone (571) 272-9300; electronic mail message 
[email protected]) or Dominic Keating, Director, Intellectual 
Property Attach[eacute] Program (telephone (571) 272-9300; electronic 
mail message [email protected]), of the Office of Policy and 
International Affairs.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The World Intellectual Property 
Organization's (WIPO) Intergovernmental Committee

[[Page 15695]]

on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge 
and Folklore (IGC) will conduct its thirtieth session from May 30 to 
June 3, 2016. The United States will participate in that meeting.
    At the meeting, the IGC will continue a longstanding discussion as 
to whether WIPO members should require patent applicants to disclose 
the source or origin of traditional knowledge and genetic resources 
used in an invention, as well as practices to prevent the granting of 
patents for inventions that are not patentable. These discussions have 
included definitional issues, including the definitions of genetic 
resources and traditional knowledge. See http://www.wipo.int/tk/en/igc/ 
for more information. Such practices include searching publicly 
available databases of genetic resource information and traditional 
    The IGC decided to invite relevant parties to provide information 
that could aid the IGC in its deliberations. The USPTO welcomes 
comments from the public on issues related to these topics. Comments 
regard the issues below would be particularly helpful to the USPTO.
     Currently, several resources are available which enable 
USPTO patent examiners to search prior art traditional knowledge and 
medicine, many of which are also available to the public,\1\ and some 
of which are available only to patent examiners through the USPTO 
Science and Technology Information Center.

    \1\ See http://www.uspto.gov/patent/laws-and-regulations/comments-public/traditional-knowledge-and-medicine-resources.

    [cir] Are there additional databases with information about genetic 
resources and traditional knowledge that patent examiners should use to 
assess patentability?
    [cir] What are the best practices for establishing such a database?
    [cir] Before such a database is made publicly available, what steps 
should be taken to ensure that it does not include confidential 
    [cir] What studies have been done regarding national laws and 
practices that require patent applications to disclose the country of 
source or origin for genetic resources or traditional knowledge that 
may be implicated in the patent application?
     The meeting is also expected to consider a wide range of 
views among IGC delegations as to whether the intellectual property 
system should play a role in ensuring that researchers obtain informed 
consent before obtaining genetic resources or traditional knowledge 
from indigenous peoples.
    [cir] What codes of conduct (e.g., University or industry regarding 
research), practices (e.g., State park procedures to obtain prior 
informed consent), and laws (e.g., tribal laws regarding sharing of 
culture and granting prior informed consent) are relevant to the 
protection of genetic resources and traditional knowledge?
    [cir] What studies have been done regarding national laws and 
practices requiring patent applications to disclose the country of 
source or origin for genetic resources or traditional knowledge?
     At various times, different IGC delegations have referred 
to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to the United Nations 
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
    [cir] How, if at all, should these Declarations inform the 
discussions at the IGC?
    Interested parties are invited to share their views on these 
matters. The information obtained can help ensure that the United 
States delegation has the most current views on relevant issues for 
discussion at the WIPO IGC meetings. Studies, citations of databases, 
codes of conduct, and laws that are provided in response to this notice 
may be collected and submitted to WIPO for compilation as part of the 
reference materials for the WIPO IGC.

    Dated: March 18, 2016.
Michelle K. Lee
Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of 
the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
[FR Doc. 2016-06681 Filed 3-23-16; 8:45 am]