PIJIP: The Intersection of Intellectual Property, Trade, and Development
On October 16, 2012, Washington College of Law’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) hosted a multi-disciplinary panel that included top academics, policy-makers, and civil servants. The panel examined the ways in which intellectual property affects economic growth in countries at different levels of development. Panelists discussed the different ways developing economies affect and are affected by the developments in intellectual properties. Professor Reichman analyzed how the TRIPS Agreement of the WTO could be used to benefit countries with developing economies. Due Internet developments worldwide, as well as the growth of unbridled rights in developing countries, pressure has greatly increased to utilize international intellectual property agreements. Some panelists argued that developing countries, thus far, have sat back and waited for the more developed nations to help formulate plans for their IP rights rather than utilizing the flexibility of TRIPS and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). A running theme in the panel was the hoarding of IP rights, most notably patents, as a detriment to the entire international system that creates hurdles to developments in science, literature, and data. Collaboration would benefit both advanced and developing economies and promote balance between sharing and commercial profitability.
The day concluded with a critique on the way trade agreements are implemented in the U.S., which is primarily through the vehicle of Executive Agreements. Professor Oona Hathaway explained the difficulties in using an Article II Agreement, and gaining Senate support, for an international trade agreement, which necessitates the increased use of Executive Agreements. Two problems with Executive Agreements are the lack of transparency and the difficulty in repealing or altering the agreement. Professor Hathaway advocated the use of ex post Congressional Agreements because they increase transparency and are legally defensible in court. While using ex post Congressional Agreements for international trade agreements is beneficial from a domestic perspective, internationally it makes the U.S. a more difficult and unstable trading partner due to Congressional unpredictability. This topic highlighted the tensions of instituting international agreements, especially those related to intellectual property and trade, due to the struggle in balancing domestic and international interests. The panelists’ experiences brought the struggles of merging interests in developing and advanced countries to light while finishing with the ever-present concern of how to accomplish international goals within the U.S. governance structure.