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University of Pennsylvania Asian Law Review




In the past decade, China has played pivotal roles in developing initiatives such as the BRICS Summit, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. China has also negotiated a number of bilateral and regional free trade agreements, connecting the country to markets in Asia, Australasia, Europe, South America and other parts of the world. Many of these agreements include provisions or chapters on intellectual property protection and enforcement.

One new initiative that has not received much scholarly and policy attention from intellectual property commentators concerns the slowly emerging "One Belt, One Road" Initiative, which has now been officially translated as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Launched in fall 2013, this initiative aims to promote global and regional connectivity through two distinct routes: the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and the sea-based 21st-century Maritime Silk Road.

Written for the "Development of Intellectual Property Law in Asia" Symposium, this article aims to introduce the BRI to intellectual property literature. It begins by documenting the recent changes to China's approach toward international intellectual property norm setting. Recognizing the key analytical challenges concerning the BRI, the article then outlines five sets of inquiries that could help enhance our understanding of the initiative. It points out that the lack of development of this initiative in the intellectual property area has presented a rare opportunity to shape the BRI's future in this area.

In view of this opportunity, the second half of the article examines six distinct areas of potential cooperation: substantive standards, procedural arrangements, cross-border enforcement, dispute resolution, technical cooperation and market aggregation. Focusing on each area in turn, the discussion highlights some of the BRI's potential constructive possibilities. The Article concludes by briefly identifying three distinct camps that subscribe to very different views on the initiative's prospects and perils.

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University of Pennsylvania Law School

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