Déjà Vu in the International Intellectual Property Regime

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On June 26, 2012, close to 50 members of the World Intellectual Property Organization signed the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances. A little more than a year later, WIPO also adopted the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. Does the rejuvenation of WIPO norm-setting activities suggest the impending end of a much-feared 'non-multilateral era', precipitated by the active negotiation of bilateral, plurilateral and regional trade agreements? Do the recent norm-setting activities reinforce the Development Agenda painstakingly created by developing countries? Or do these activities indicate just the growing complexity of the international intellectual property regime, within which both multilateralism and non-multilateralism proceed at the same time?

This chapter puts the recent multilateral and non-multilateral intellectual property developments in their proper historical contexts. Specifically, it examines three sets of recurring developments: (1) the establishment of development agendas; (2) the negotiation of non-multilateral agreements; and (3) the rejuvenation of multilateral norm-setting activities. From these developments, this chapter draws a simple but valuable historical lesson: international intellectual property developments are influenced by the repeated swings of an invisible pendulum. As this pendulum swings back and forth, history will repeat itself, causing us to feel like it is déjà vu all over again. This chapter concludes by suggesting that this simple lesson provides three key insights into the current and future development of the international intellectual property regime.

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SAGE Publications, Inc.


Thousand Oaks, CA


Matthew David & Debora Halbert

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The SAGE Handbook of Intellectual Property

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