Intellectual Property Rights in the Asia-Pacific Trade Context (TIID Working Paper No.2/2015)

Working paper29 Dec 2015

In this paper, we expand the analysis of intellectual property rights (IPRs) in free trade agreements (FTAs) undertaken by Puutio (2013). Our research is based on the Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Agreements Database (APTIAD) upon which we have built a parallel database that documents trends in the inclusion of IPRs in FTAs in the Asia-Pacific region.

We note that:
i. Technological progress, digitalization and globalization generate constant impetus towards international harmonization and increasingly complex IPRs legislation;
ii. FTAs are flexible venue for international IPRs norm-setting, which poses significant challenges as well as opportunities; and
iii. Forum shifting is best viewed as a rational response to private progress and public stagnation.

We find that:
i. Countries within the region have been involved in a growing number of bilateral and regional preferential trade agreements;
ii. FTAs cover an increasing amount of subject matter over time, in line with technological progress and absorptive capacities; and
iii. The stringency of IPRs in FTAs has grown; however, there is no clear evidence of spiraling or ratcheting up across all development groupings.

In part I we discuss the foundations of assessing IPRs clauses in FTAs. In Part II we present the current state of affairs in Asia and the Pacific.