The Middle Kingdom and the Intellectual Property World
Oregon Review of International Law, Vol. 26, pp. 209-62, 2011
55 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2011 Last revised: 22 Oct 2012
Date Written: September 28, 2011
Delivered as the keynote opening address at the Symposium on "China's Role in Regulating the Global Information Economy," this Article scrutinizes China's participation in the international intellectual property regime and its role in both the WTO and WIPO. It begins by discussing China's engagement with international intellectual property norms before its accession to the WTO in December 2001. It points out that China is not a "norm breaker" one typically infers from its disappointing record of intellectual property protection. Instead, the country should be viewed as a "norm taker," having accepted most of the WIPO-administered intellectual property treaties available for ratification.
The Article then identifies three distinct phases in which China engages with international intellectual property norms following its accession to the WTO. It examines in detail the three possible roles China can play in this area: (1) norm taker, (2) norm shaker, and (3) norm maker. The Article shows that, although China began primarily as a norm taker, it has slowly added the roles of a norm shaker and a norm maker in later phases. While China will continue to play different roles in the near future, the predominant role it plays will vary from phase to phase. The Article concludes with some brief observations concerning China's impact on the future development of the international intellectual property regime.
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