Islands of Effective International Adjudication: Constructing an Intellectual Property Rule of Law in the Andean Community

55 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2008

See all articles by Laurence Helfer

Laurence Helfer

Duke University School of Law; University of Copenhagen - iCourts - Centre of Excellence for International Courts

Karen J. Alter

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science; University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Law - iCourts Center of Excellence

Florencia Guerzovich

Independent

Abstract

The Andean Community - a forty-year-old regional integration pact of small developing countries in South America - is widely viewed as a failure. In this Article, we show that the Andean Community has in fact achieved remarkable success within one part of its legal system. The Andean Tribunal of Justice (ATJ) is the world's third most active international court, with over 1400 rulings issued to date. Over 90% of those rulings concern intellectual property (IP). The ATJ has helped to establish IP as a rule of law island in the Andean Community where national judges, administrative officials, and private parties actively participate in regional litigation and conform their behavior to Andean IP rules. In the vast seas surrounding this island, by contrast, Andean rules remain riddled with exceptions, under-enforced, and often circumvented by domestic actors. We explain how the ATJ helped to construct the IP rule of law island and why litigation has not spilled over to other issue areas regulated by the Andean Community.

Our analysis makes four broad contributions to international law and international relations scholarship. First, we adopt and apply a broad definition of an effective rule of law, using qualitative and quantitative analysis to explain how the Andean legal system contributes to changing national decision-making in favor of compliance with Andean rules. Our definition and our explanation of the ATJ's contributions to constructing an effective rule of law provide a model that can be replicated elsewhere.

Second, we explain how the Andean legal system has helped domestic IP administrative agencies in the region resist pressures for stronger IP protection from national executives, the United States, and American corporations. We emphasize the importance of these agencies rather than domestic judges as key constituencies that have facilitated the emergence of an effective rule of law for IP. As a result of the agencies' actions, Andean IP rules remain more closely tailored to the economic and social needs of developing counties than do the IP rules of the Community's regional neighbors.

Third, the reality that the ATJ is effective, but only within a single issue area, makes the Andean experience of broader theoretical interest. We offer an explanation for why Andean legal integration has not extended beyond IP. But our answer suggests avenues for additional research. We note that Andean IP rules are more specific than other areas of Andean law and that most administrative agencies in the region lack the autonomy needed to serve as compliance partners for ATJ rulings. We also find that, outside of IP, the ATJ is unwilling to issue the sort of purposive interpretations that encourages private parties to invoke Andean rules in litigation. The result is both a lack of demand for and supply of ATJ rulings.

Fourth, our study of the Andean legal system provides new evidence to assess three competing theories of effective international adjudication - theories that ascribe effectiveness to the design of international legal systems, to the ability of member states to sanction international judges, and to domestic legal and political factors. We also explore the possibility that rule of law islands may be emerging in other treaty-based systems subject to the jurisdiction of international tribunals.

Keywords: Andean Community, Andean Tribunal, International Courts, International Tribunals, European Court of Justice, Intellectual Property, Trademarks, Patents, Pharmaceuticals, Regional Trade, Regional Integration, International Relations, Institutional Design, Administrative State, Administrative Agency

Suggested Citation

Helfer, Laurence and Alter, Karen J. and Guerzovich, Maria F., Islands of Effective International Adjudication: Constructing an Intellectual Property Rule of Law in the Andean Community. American Journal of International Law, Vol. 109, 2009; Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 08-53; Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 08-53; Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 08-22; Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 08-41. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1306318

Laurence Helfer (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Dr.
Box 90360
Durham, NC 27708
United States
+1-919-613-8573 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://law.duke.edu/fac/helfer/

University of Copenhagen - iCourts - Centre of Excellence for International Courts ( email )

University of Copenhagen Faculty of Law
Karen Blixens Plads 16
Copenhagen S, DK-2300
Denmark

HOME PAGE: http://jura.ku.dk/icourts/

Karen J. Alter

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science ( email )

601 University Place
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Law - iCourts Center of Excellence ( email )

Karen Blixens Plads 16
Copenhagen, DK-2300
Denmark

Maria F. Guerzovich

Independent ( email )

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