From Kafka to KAFTA: Intellectual Property, and the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement
(2014) Korea Legislation Research Institute Issues Paper 38-93.
109 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2015 Last revised: 22 May 2015
Date Written: December 15, 2014
This paper provides a critical examination of the intellectual property sections of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement 2014. Chapter 13 of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement 2014 deals with the subject of intellectual property law. The Chapter covers such topics as the purposes and objectives of intellectual property law; copyright law; trade mark law; patent law; and intellectual property enforcement. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties in the Australian Parliament highlighted the controversy surrounding this chapter of the agreement:
The intellectual property rights chapter of KAFTA has drawn considerable attention from academics and stakeholders regarding the proposed need for changes to Australian intellectual property law and the inclusion of intellectual property in the definition of investment with regard to the investor-state dispute mechanism. Other concerns raised with the Committee include the prescriptive nature of the chapter, the lack of recognition of the broader public interests of intellectual property rights, and possible changes to fair use provisions.
Article 13.1.1 of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement 2014 provides that: ‘Each Party recognises the importance of adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights, while ensuring that measures to enforce those rights do not themselves become barriers to legitimate trade.’ This is an unsatisfactory description of the objectives and purposes of intellectual property law in both Australia and Korea. There is a failure to properly consider the range of public purposes served by intellectual property law – such as providing for access to knowledge, promoting competition and innovation, protecting consumer rights, and allowing for the protection of public health, food security, and the environment. Such a statement of principles and objectives detracts from the declaration in the TRIPS Agreement 1994 of the public interest objectives to be served by intellectual property.
Chapter 11 of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement 2014 is an investment chapter, with an investor-state dispute settlement regime. This chapter is highly controversial – given the international debate over investor-state dispute settlement; the Australian context for the debate; and the text of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement 2014. In April 2014, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released a report on Recent Developments in Investor-State Dispute Settlement. The overall figures are staggering. UNCTAD reports a significant growth in investment-state dispute settlement, across a wide array of different fields of public regulation. Given the broad definition of investment, intellectual property owners will be able to use the investor-state dispute settlement regime in the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement 2014. This will have significant implications for all the various disciplines of intellectual property – including copyright law, trade mark law, and patent law.
Keywords: Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement, Copyright Law, Patent Law, Trademark Law, Investor-State Dispute Settlement, ISDS, KAFTA, Kafka
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