Through Decision 486 of the Andean Community a common IP legal system rules for Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. This decision is an excellent example of how members of the Community have delegated their powers to legislate in the IP field in order to promote the general welfare of the four peoples (Venezuela is not currently part of the Community).
Furthermore, the existence of a “common regulation” encourages investment, research and economic development as a direct result of greater legal certainty.
Morover, the “Decision” sets out common rules for the granting, implementation and enforcement of a wide range of IPRs in the Member States. Since 2000, the four countries ‘ IPR systems brought in line with the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
With respect to ongoing conflicts over rights to genetic resources, biopiracy and the patentability of life forms, the Decision contains quite a number of provisions. The most noteworthy are perhaps the following (roughly translated from the Spanish, but not the legalese):
(i) The Member States recognise the rights and faculties of local, indigenous and afroamerican communities to decide over their collective knowledge (Article 3)
(ii) Life forms, in whole or in part, as they are found in nature, natural biological processes, and biological material which exists in nature or which can be isolated from any life form, including genomes or germplasm, shall not be considered inventions (Article 15)
(iii) Any mark referring to elements of the indigenous, afroamerican or local communities cultures shall not be registered without the community’s express consent (Article 136)
This is an excellent example of how Intellectual Property can be applied directly as a tool for peoples’ development.