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Intellectual property is extremely relevant to ABS mechanisms as most research and development based on genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge will eventually be subject to Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), usually through patents.

However, many providers of genetic resources perceive IPRs as a threat, a powerful means for corporations to illegitimately gain ownership over what is technically not theirs. Indeed, many cases of misappropriation of genetic resources or traditional knowledge, e.g. through illegally granted patents, hit the headlines in the past. But this is only one side of the coin. The other reality is that IPRs can be strong tools against misuse of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge and ultimately might support IPLCs’ economic aspirations.

When implementing the Convention on Biologocil Diversity (CBD) and the Nagoya Protocol, other international agreements and processes dealing with intellectual property issues need to be considered. One of the World Trade Union (WTO) Agreements, the Agreement on the Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) establishes, for example, the basic requirements for the protection of intellectual property. In addition, relevant discussions and negotiations take place in the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

Through workshops and trainings the ABS Initiative increases stakeholder awareness and in-depth understanding of the linkages between IPRs andthe related institutional landscapes. Special target groups are the National ABS Focal Points and indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs).