Harmony and Disharmony in International Patent Law
16 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2016
Date Written: March 2016
One of the purposes of the Trans‐Pacific Partnership (TPP) is to harmonize standards and create a uniform climate for trade and investment. As lawmakers deliberate the terms of the deal, they must consider what the long‐term impact of agreeing to its sweeping provisions will be. As they do so, they should keep in mind that the gaps between the agreed‐upon principles and local implementation, and the differences between local implementation – some of them by design – are often quite great. Drawing upon the existing literature, this short essay provides a survey of the extent of harmony and disharmony in the 20 years that have passed since ratification of the TRIPS agreement, with a focus on its patent provisions. After considering the framework for harmonization that the TPP and TRIPS share, I discuss and provide examples of three types of differences: differences between the minimum standards that are negotiated and compliance with them, differences between the substantive principles agreed to and the actual laws that implement them (and the procedural contexts in which they operate), and differences between the laws as enacted and the laws that are applied.
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