Many international treaties and agreements have profound impacts on intellectual property rights in the countries which are part of them. One example of such a treaty is the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The CPTPP came into force in 2018. It involves 11 different countries spread out across four continents. The CPTPP’s standards regarding intellectual property are the most precise and detailed of any such agreement in the world.
Expropriation, compensation, investment, and fair and equitable treatment as they relate to intellectual property rights are all defined in the CPTPP. Every member nation must abide by these standards while also cooperating to ensure that intellectual property rights are upheld equally in all CPTPP countries.
How the CPTPP Impacts Intellectual Property Rights
The CPTPP is divided into several chapters. One such chapter concerns intellectual property rights. Listed in this chapter are provisions covering just about every area of protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. These provisions establish transparent and consistent standards which are directly related to intellectual property rights.
The CPTPP gives customs authorities of member countries the authority to temporarily detain shipments of items believed to have violated intellectual property rights. The importer of the goods will then be punished accordingly if found guilty. Customs authorities may also take appropriate action against exported products which would violate intellectual property rights.
Every country which is part of the CPTPP is required to provide its intellectual property courts with the power to award additional damages for trademark infringement. These additional damages would be added to compensatory damages to be paid according to each country’s existing intellectual property laws.
The CPTPP, Intellectual Property, and Traditional Knowledge
The CPTPP includes provisions which acknowledge the relationship between intellectual property laws and traditional knowledge. All countries involved are to cooperate through their respective intellectual property agencies to enhance understanding of all issues linked to traditional knowledge. Patent examination connected to traditional knowledge is also another related point discussed in the CPTPP.
Countries which are part of the CPTPP are to train patent examiners to examine patent applications related to traditional knowledge. During this training, traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources is to be prioritized. Member countries are also encouraged to use databases and digital libraries containing traditional knowledge to improve their understanding and enforcement of intellectual property rights in conjunction with traditional knowledge.
Intellectual Property Rights as Investments
The majority of international treaties define intellectual property rights as a type of investment. This is also true of the CPTPP. According to the CPTPP, an investment can be defined as “every asset that an investor owns or controls, directly or indirectly, that has the characteristics of an investment, including such characteristics as the commitment of capital or other resources, the expectation of gain or profit, or the assumption of risk”.
The CPTPP states that intellectual property rights which are to be considered as investments are those with the preceding characteristics. That being said, these characteristics are dynamic and to be used on a case-by-case basis. There is no inflexible requirement that all intellectual property rights must necessarily contain every quality of an investment.
In most cases, CPTPP countries will consider intellectual property rights to be protected investments. This will be especially true if the rights are used for licensing or a similar use in a member country. However, it should also be noted that the registration of a trademark, copyright, or patent in a country does not automatically grant it the characteristics of an investment.
The Regulatory Review Exception
The CPTPP requires every member to allow for an exception to intellectual property rights for patented medicines. This exception allows the use of any patented medicine to produce certain necessary information. Such information is used to seek regulatory approval of a generic version of such medicines.
By using this exception, pharmaceutical manufacturers receive the ability to seek regulatory approval for generic medicines without violating any intellectual property rights. Countries which provide for this exception in their intellectual property laws may make use of this provision.
In addition, the CPTPP allows pharmaceutical manufacturers in member countries to export generic medicines to seek regulatory approval abroad. Once again, all member countries which had not previously allowed such a move were to begin allowing it upon entering into the agreement.
This article is brought to you by Exy Intellectual Property Malaysia and Singapore