Sustainable Development In International Intellectual Property Law – New Approaches From EU Economic Partnership Agreements?

Date period
11 October 2010

SummarySustainable Development in International Intellectual Property Law -New Approaches from EU Economic Partnership Agreements? by Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan, from Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition and Tax Law (MPI), provides innovative analysis on the link between sustainable development and intellectual property (IP) in light of the EC-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed in October 2008.

The paper emphasizes that the general objectives and principles of the EC-CARIFORUM EPA allow the concept of sustainable development to play a significant role - if the contracting parties are able and willing to use its potential. It underlines that the implementation of the agreement's sustainable development objective empower and commit all actors involved in the implementation of the treaty to take a holistic approach in the process of decision-making, including with regard to the IP relevant provisions where it is stated that fostering innovation and creativity is a crucial element in achieving sustainable development and that IP protection should be tailored to the level of development..

The paper also broadens the reflection to international IP law more generally. In this regard, it suggests that incorporating sustainable development as a treaty objective in international agreements on the protection of IP can function as a tool to overcome the structural bias and self-contained nature of international IP regulation. The concept of sustainable development provides negotiators in the treaty-drafting process, domestic actors in the course of treaty implementation, and international courts and tribunals when settling disputes over the proper treaty application an option to address intersections between economic, social and environmental interests.