The Legitimacy and Purpose of Intellectual Property Chapters in FTAs
CHALLENGES TO MULTILATERAL TRADE: THE IMPACT OF BILATERAL, PREFERENTIAL AND REGIONAL AGREEMENTS, Ross Buckley, Vai Io Lo, Laurence Boulle, eds., Wolters Kluwer, 2008
17 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2011 Last revised: 5 Apr 2015
Date Written: July 2, 2012
La versión en español de este articulo se puede consultar en: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1966562.
This chapter discusses the role and function of intellectual property chapters in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). In the intellectual property context, FTAs are primarily used to increase the obligations of parties. Multilateral negotiations at the TRIPS Council, of the World Trade Organization (WTO), are largely stalled and so proponents both for and against any increases in intellectual property protection use alternative forums to pursue their interests. One such forum, used mostly by those seeking to increase levels of intellectual property protection, is FTAs. The other key WTO agreements, the GATT and GATS, provide most-favoured nation (MFN) exceptions for FTAs. This means that the provisions of the FTA only apply to the FTA parties and not to other WTO members. The TRIPS Agreement has no equivalent MFN exception. This chapter discusses how the absence of an MFN exception for intellectual property chapters in FTAs only serves to increase protection; protection cannot be decreased. Against this background the chapter analyses the legitimacy of this one-way effect, in light of the object and purpose of the TRIPS Agreement. The chapter discusses the impact of TRIPS-plus on small, developed countries with market economies. Although of different sizes, both New Zealand and Australia may fit this description when compared with, for example, the United States and the European Union. This chapter suggests that continuous wave of TRIPS-plus in FTAs is not sustainable or desirable in the long term. The final part discusses some alternative approaches to the use of FTAs to negotiate new intellectual property norms.
Keywords: intellectual property, free trade agreements, TRIPS Agreement, World Trade Organization
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