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University of Cincinnati Law Review




Countries differ in terms of their levels of wealth, economic structures, technological capabilities, political systems, and cultural tradition. No two countries have the same needs or goals. As a result, policymakers face different political pressures and make different value judgments as to what would best promote the creation and dissemination of intellectual works in their own countries. These uncoordinated judgments eventually result in a conflicting set of intellectual property laws around the world.

As countries become increasingly interdependent in this globalized economy, these conflicting laws create tension and sometimes result in disputes. To minimize differences and prevent conflicts, countries use a variety of dispute resolution techniques, including self-help, coercion, mutual exchange of information, international agreements, and multilateral regimes. Commentators generally analyze these techniques by focusing on the number of parties involved in resolving an intellectual property dispute. Using a unilateral-bilateral-multilateral trichotomy, commentators suggest that one can infer some general characteristics of a dispute resolution arrangement by counting the number of parties involved in resolving a conflict.

This Article argues that, although the unilateral-bilateral-multilateral trichotomy provides some helpful insights into the nature of a dispute resolution arrangement, it provides very limited information about the effectiveness and future prospects of that arrangement. Thus, the Article proposes a new, but companion, analytical framework, which focuses on the approach used to resolve the conflict, instead of the number of parties involved. Drawing on the experiences of mediators, business strategists, and international relations theorists, this Article argues that the nonzero-sum approach is the most preferable approach used to resolve global intellectual property disputes.

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University of Colorado

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