Chicago Journal of International Law

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Since the late twentieth century, there have been many instances of foreign entities appropriating a country’s biological resources without sharing with that country the benefits of its patents that are associated with those resources. This appropriation without benefit-sharing (AWBS) has led to calls that patent applicants should disclose the geographical origins of biological resources used in their inventions in order for patent offices to better assess the patentability of these inventions. This Comment investigates whether international law mandates disclosure and whether there can be an effective system to enforce disclosure by focusing on two treaties: the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the Nagoya Protocol. The Comment argues that under TRIPS there are two situations that likely trigger mandatory origin-of-resource disclosures and that under the Nagoya Protocol, patent offices may effectively enforce the disclosure requirements to combat AWBS.