Defusing Disclosure in Patent Applications

79 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2010 Last revised: 1 Dec 2010

See all articles by Paul D. Oldham

Paul D. Oldham

ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (Cesagen)

Geoff Burton


Date Written: October 20, 2010


This report provides analysis and factual data on ways forward for the successful introduction of a practical system for monitoring the utilisation of genetic resources and traditional knowledge in patent applications. It suggests a resolution to a key issue blocking the creation of such a system. This resolution is based on 4 elements:

1. Acknowledging and analysing the current impasse between the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) on the disclosure of certain biodiversity information in patent applications (Section 1). 2. Analysing a useful precedent for a functional disclosure requirement using the Bayh-Dole provisions of the US Patent Act (Section 2). 3. Interrogating the patent system to see to what extent disclosure of countries of origin already takes place (Section 3). 4. Interrogating the patent system to explore disclosure issues with respect to indigenous and local communities and traditional knowledge (Section 4).

Keywords: Patent disclosure, disclosure of origin, access to genetic resources and benefit sharing, convention on biological diversity, WIPO, traditional knowledge

JEL Classification: O34, Q28

Suggested Citation

Oldham, Paul D. and Burton, Geoff, Defusing Disclosure in Patent Applications (October 20, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Paul D. Oldham (Contact Author)

ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (Cesagen) ( email )

Institute for Advanced Study
County South
Lancaster, Lancashire LA1 4YD
Great Britain

Geoff Burton

UNU ( email )

53-67 Jingumae 5-chome
Tokyo, 150-8304

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