This paper assembles detailed information about the intellectual property (IP) provisions contained in 194 active regional trade agreements (RTAs) that had been notified to the WTO by November 2010. IP provisions in RTAs have been the subject of much study and commentary. However, much of this work has focused on a relatively limited number of RTAs, with a concentration on parties with narrow geographical and economic profiles. The goal of the current study was to expand beyond the more commonly studied RTAs, to make an initial review of the full array of RTAs notified to the WTO, and in that way to lay the groundwork for a more comprehensive overview that would enable consideration of the broader system implications of this more diverse range of norm-setting activity. This was tackled by conducting a comprehensive mapping of the IP content in a larger number of RTAs involving parties from all regions and across different levels of development. This broad approach is necessary to better understand cross-cutting 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 30 different IP-related provisions. 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. More than two-thirds of the RTAs surveyed include provisions on border measures or statements of general commitment to IP protection or cooperation. 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 about 40% of these agreements found to have negligible substantive IP standards.
Regional Trade Agreements Intellectual Property Rights WTO TRIPS