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Over the past two decades, the protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs) globally has become a major issue both for right holders and users, and one that has had profound implications in a number of important areas of public discourse, such as international trade, public health, education and research, national development and the promotion of biodiversity. This subject seeks to engage with all these issues, and begins with a discussion of the sources of international intellectual property (IP) law, including the principal IP treaties and the general architecture of the international IP system. It then considers a number of case studies where particular IP issues arise and where international solutions are presently being negotiated. It will also examine the growing tension between the territoriality of IPRs and the global scope of IP exploitation, considering how this clash plays out in the key area of private international law. Both lecturers have had extensive experience in international intellectual property matters, and bring to the subject both academic and practical perspectives that add greatly to its interest and relevance.
This subject consists of a survey of the economic, legal and political elements and forces that shape the international IP system.
Principal topics include:
- Introduction to the international IP system, including the main producers and owners of IP, the institutional architecture and the treaty system, including those administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Trade Organization (notably the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights), and the emergence of bilateral and regional trade and investment protection treaties that have an impact on the protection of IP rights
- Instruments and strategies for obtaining protection internationally—the Patent Cooperation Treaty, Madrid System, Hague System and regional systems
- Human rights, IP and the development agenda
- IPRs and public health
- IPRs and food security
- Biotechnology, access to genetic resources and traditional knowledge
- Access to knowledge
- The protection of names, marks and other identifiers and content, with particular reference to the internet
- Dispute settlement and private international law issues.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of:
- the institutional architecture for the formulation and implementation of intellectual property policy internationally and, to a lesser extent, regionally;
- the main treaties establishing international intellectual property norms and the dispute settlement machinery for international intellectual property disputes, both private and public; and
- the issues and trends that are at the centre of current discussions and negotiations for the further development or modification of the international intellectual property system
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the role and effectiveness of these different international regimes
- Be an engaged participant in debates regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field, including the impact of trade-related IPRS, human rights perspectives and the general issue of third party access to material protected by IPRs
- Have a sophisticated appreciation of the factors and processes driving these developments at the international level
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating to the international protection of IPRs and to critically evaluate existing and emerging theories, principles and concepts in this field
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding issues in this field to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences, including to policy makers at the national and international levels
- Be able to demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in this field.
Last updated: 3 November 2022