This is a revision and update of "Intellectual Property Provisions in Regional Trade Agreements" by Valdés and Runyowa (2012). This paper adjusts the methodology applied to assess the intellectual property (IP) provisions contained in regional trade agreements (RTAs) and the aggregation of such provisions into groups; it also updates the RTAs surveyed, from 194 in November 2010 to 245 in February 2014. New information contained in this revision relates to three IP-related investment and non-violation provisions in RTAs. The methodological revisions and new information result in changes to the assessment of the IP content of certain RTAs while the update reveals a growing and increasingly complex network of RTAs with IP content. This revision also provides new insights into possible improvements to the methodological toolkit for analysing IP in RTAs. The paper assembles detailed information about the IP provisions contained in active RTAs notified to the WTO. The goal was to expand beyond the more commonly studied RTAs, to review the full array of agreements notified to the WTO and thus to enable consideration of the implications of this diverse range of norm-setting activity for the multilateral system. Mapping of the IP content in RTAs involving parties from all regions and levels of development is necessary to better understand crosscutting trends in RTAs, and how all the parts of the international IP framework influence each other. The methodology followed involved surveying each RTA in the sample to determine whether it made reference to any of 32 different IP-related provisions. Two of the three IP-related provisions new to this revision and update are investment-related IP provisions, while the other concerns dispute settlement for non-violation claims. The relevant provisions are discussed in detail and summary statistics used to identify patterns over time and by continent, level of economic development and selected traders. The number of IP provisions in each RTA is then used to classify agreements according to their level of IP content. The first significant identified trend is the acceleration in the conclusion of RTAs with IP provisions after the creation of the WTO and the entry into force of the WTO TRIPS Agreement. A significant proportion of those RTAs contain some type of IP provision, but the number and type of those provisions vary widely across agreements. A majority of the RTAs surveyed include general IP provisions, while a smaller proportion contains explicit provisions on specific fields of IP law, such as geographical indications, patents, trademarks and copyright. The inclusion of even more detailed provisions elaborating on specific areas of IP law is less common. As a result, the actual IP content of RTAs differs greatly across the sample, with slightly less than half of these agreements found to havesubstantive IP standards that can be classified as moderate or high. The RTAs containing a high level of IP provisions are characterized by a hub-and-spoke architecture in which the wording and structure of IP provisions converged around the RTAs of specific countries or blocs. The largest systems are grouped around the EFTA, the European Union and the United States. The hub-and-spoke architecture seems to have encouraged the convergence of domestic IP regimes among the respective RTA signatories. The mechanics of this potentially crucial process and its economic implications require further investigation.


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  • Published online: 23 Sept 2014
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