Multilateralising TRIPS-Plus Agreements: Is the US Strategy a Failure?
27 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2008 Last revised: 18 Jul 2014
Date Written: October 1, 2008
This paper examines the current wave of US bilateral agreements with respect to their strategic and political value at the plurilateral level. The US government has explicitly recognized its objective of leveraging bilateral agreements in order to influence regional and multilateral negotiations. Although it may be too early to assess the full effectiveness of this US strategy, the paper argues that there are clear signs that the exploitation of bilateral agreements will not independently achieve the goal of strengthening plurilateral patent norms. This finding is supported by an assessment of six potential roads from bilateralism to plurilateralism: chain reaction, pressure for inclusion, coalition building, emulation, legal interpretation, and adherence. The assertion that bilateral trade deals have a great impact on international patent lawmaking, made both by proponents and critics of TRIPs-Plus agreements, is unsubstantiated. The author concludes that the US Government Accountability Office and Congress are justified in questioning whether the negotiation of these bilateral agreements, at least in the realm of IP law, is a wise investment of US Trade Representative's resources.
Keywords: patent, bilateralism, multilateralism, United States, TRIPS, USTR, Free trade agreements, intellectual property, IPR
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