For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Monday, 24 August 2009

TRIPS book reviews

The IPKat has been looking at a couple of books on TRIPS, the Agreement on Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights. A fascinating thing about TRIPS is how, it seems, a device that was originally conceived as a way for the developed countries to keep their developing cousins in line has somehow swung round and become a stick for hitting the most developed countries with, as we shall soon see ...

The Implementation Game: the TRIPS Agreement and the Global Politics of Intellectual Property Reform in Developing Countries, by Carolyn Deere, is the first book the IPKat took a peek at. The author is the Director of the Global Trade Governance Project at the Global Economic Governance Programme, University College, Oxford. A Senior Research Associate at Oxford University's Centre for International Studies, she's also the founder and Chair of the Board of Intellectual Property Watch, one of the Kats' favourite reads.

But what of the book itself? According to the publisher, none other than Oxford University Press:

"With the launch of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, [TRIPS] emerged as a symbol of coercion in international economic relations [In some circles, true. But others saw it as a fair quid pro quo, which is why they were puzzled at the adverse responses]. In the decade that followed, intellectual property became one of the most contentious topics of global policy debate. This book is the first full-length study of the politics surrounding what developing countries did to implement TRIPS and why.

Based on a review of the evidence from 1995 to 2007, this book emphasizes that developing countries exhibited considerable variation in their approach to TRIPS implementation. In particular, developing countries took varying degrees of advantage of the legal safeguards and options-commonly known as TRIPS 'flexibilities'--that the Agreement provides.

To explain this variation, this book argues that TRIPS implementation must be understood as a complex political game played out among developing country governments and a range of stakeholders-developed countries, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), and industry groups [The Kat agrees with this approach: this being a game in which the players move simultaneously rather than awaiting their turn, it's all the more difficult to follow the plot]. The contested nature of the TRIPS bargain spurred competing efforts to revise the terms of TRIPS and to influence global IP regulation more broadly. The intensity of the implementation game was amplified by an awareness among the various stakeholders that the IP reforms developing countries pursued would influence these ongoing international negotiations. The book attributes the variation in TRIPS implementation to the interplay between these global IP debates, international power pressures, and political dynamics within developing countries. The book includes historical analysis, compilations of evidence, and analysis supported by examples from across the developing world.

The Implementation Game will be of interest both to scholars of international relations, law, and international political economy as well as to policymakers, commentators, and activists engaged in debates on the global governance of intellectual property".
This book certainly delivers what it promises. While not a classic exposition of game theory, it demonstrates how the forces of cunning in the interpretation and application of rules, inertia, lack of accountability and of having little or nothing to lose can affect they manner in which both single countries and regional groups can derive some advantage even from an apparently unpromising position.

Bibliographic details: ISBN13: 9780199550616, ISBN10: 0199550611. Hardback, 432 pages. Price: $80. Rupture factor: low. Book's web page here.


The third edition of Daniel Gervais's TRIPS Agreement Drafting History and Analysis, published by Sweet & Maxwell, needs little introduction since the two earlier editions have become standard fare for those who want to understand either what TRIPS means now or how it got there in the first place. As the publishers say:
"Having been an active part of the negotiations when the TRIPS agreement was being formed, author Daniel Gervais presents a distinctive and insightful explanation of the history and background of the Agreement. This acclaimed book:

* Provides a complete background by following the history of the TRIPS agreement;
* Demonstrates the effect of the TRIPS agreement through analysis of recent cases;
* Presents an insightful article-by-article analysis of the full TRIPS agreement
* Offers a unique insider perspective as the author was involved with the TRIPS agreement negotiations
* Includes relevant dispute settlement cases and the ongoing panel discussions to reflect the developments which have occurred since 1995
* Takes into account the latest Doha Development Round discussions to bring to light the current international issues relating to the TRIPS agreement
* Analyses the rising trend of bilateral agreements and the implications for practitioners working in the countries party to them
* Anticipates the future impact the TRIPS agreement will have on the
international IP framework".
The IPKat has never quite made up his mind whether this work is really a treatise on contemporary legal history or a tome that can also at a stroke be converted into a springboard that enables the reader to take an informed leap into the future. Professor Gervais is an author to whom careful description and scholarly analysis appear to come more easily than speculation and spontaneous leaps in the dark, though in the current era of flux and uncertainty an appendix dedicated to well-informed guesswork would be quite welcome too!

Bibliographic details: ISBN: 9781847032829. Hardback, lxxvii + 785 pages, £189.00 Rupture factor: not insubstantial. Book's web page here.

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