links & tags
This page deals with global intellectual property agreements
and agencies such as the World Intellectual Property Organization
and World Trade Organisation.
Berne Convention - the centrepiece
of global copyright law
Paris and other copyright conventions such as the 1996
WIPO Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performances & Phonograms
agreements for harmonisation of Industrial
Property law - trademarks, appellations, designs,
of the global copyright and industrial property regime,
including works on specific treaties
WIPO - the World Intellectual Property
- the World Trade Organisation and TRIPS Agrement
global map of national IP regimes
- particular countries are discussed in more detail
in later pages of this guide
the global regime
Intellectual property protection in Australia, as
in all advanced economies, reflects international agreements
such as the Berne Convention.
Those agreements establish basic standards for IP protection
and seek to harmonise the legal regimes of individual
countries. The agreements have resulted from negotiations
- often extending over many years - under the auspices
of bodies such as the World Intellectual Property Organisation
(WIPO). They are administered by bodies such as WIPO and
the World Trade Organisation and - in practice - through
bilateral negotiation by major players such as the US
There are a wide range of agreements, consistent with
the dimensions of intellectual property protection (from
the bundle of rights in music CDs to patenting microorganisms)
and the challenges of achieving broad consistency in diverse
national laws that reflect both cultural and economic
interests. Not every nation is a party to every agreement.
The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary
& Artistic Works (Berne)
is the key copyright agreement.
It dates from 1886 - following the 1883 Paris Convention
for the Protection of Industrial Property (eg patents)
- and has been revised several times. It establishes basic
categories for copyright protection, rights and the duration
of copyright protection. Berne ensures some consistency
in the copyright law of participating nations. It is an
indication that 'globalisation'
didn't begin in the 1970s.
The initial Berne treaty essentially provided for reciprocal
recognition of national copyright regimes, building on
bilateral agreements. The UK for example established its
first International Copyright Act in 1838, extended
to cover music - primarily that from sheet music publishers
in France and parts of Germany - in 1842. The treaty had
a narrow focus, covering writing (eg novels, financial
reports and scientific publications), musical composition
and some visual art forms (eg engravings but not photographs).
By 1883 there were around 69 international agreements.
Most dealt with trade marks; most were on a bilateral
Since 1886 the convention has been amended six times to
keep pace with the emergence of new technologies. Berlin
(1908) for example incorporated photography, film and
sound recording. Rome (1928) added broadcasting; Brussels
(1948) added television. Particular amendments and additional
agreements are discussed below. The
global industrial property conventions have also been
Until the 1970s preparations for what were mammoth diplomatic
negotiations were handled by the United International
Bureaus of the Berne & Paris Unions (BIRPI), a secretariat
located in Switzerland. BIRPI subsequently became the
World Intellectual Property Organisation, discussed below.
By 1993 there were around 100 signatories to the Berne
Convention. Most nations are now members.
The United States did not become a signatory until 1988,
ie over 100 years after the initial convention. Its first
national copyright law (1790) provided protection only
for authors who were US citizens or residents. By 1850,
only the US, Russia and Ottoman Empire among major powers
refused to recognize international copyright and were
subject to the sort of criticism recently directed by
the US against China. It was not until the 1891 International
Copyright Act (the Chace Act) that the US gave foreign
authors equal treatment if the author's nation accorded
reciprocal protection to US authors and the works were
actually printed in the US.
Rome, Paris and beyond
Like copyright law in most countries, Berne has changed
to reflect new technologies such as broadcasting and sound
recordings (phonograms) and emerging perceptions of the
rights of creators/investors.
That change has been incremental, rather than revolutionary.
Its pace reflected differences among members about specific
wording and about whether protection should be provided
for particular areas of creator or communication.
Supplementary agreements extending the initial Berne Convention
1928 Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers,
Producers of Phonograms & Broadcasting Organizations
Paris Convention for the Protection of Producers
of Phonograms (Paris)
1971 Geneva Convention for the Protection of Producers
of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their
It obliges each contracting state to protect a producer
of phonograms (ie music recordings) who is a national
of another contracting state against unauthorised making
of duplicates, against importation of such duplicates
where the making/importation is for the purposes of
distribution to the public, and against distribution
of such duplicates to the public.
1974 Brussels Convention Relating to the Distribution
of Programme-Carrying Signals Transmitted by Satellite
recently the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT)
and the 1996 WIPO Performances & Phonograms Treaty
have updated Berne and Rome conventions in an attempt
to catch up with technologies such as the internet.
The WIPO Copyright Treaty extends traditional copyright
protection to computer programs and "compilations
of data or other material (databases) in any form, which
by reason of the selection or arrangement of their contents
constitute intellectual creations".
The Performances & Phonograms Treaty deals
with intellectual property rights of performers (eg actors,
singers and instrumentalists) and producers of phonograms
("the persons or legal entities who or which take the
initiative and have the responsibility for the fixation
of the sounds"). The treaty covers both groups - performers
and record companies - because most of the rights are
"connected with their fixed, purely aural performances
(which are the subject matter of phonograms)".
Like most nations, Australia has not yet signed or ratified
the WCT or WPPT, although the Digital Agenda
legislation - noted on the preceding page - is consistent
with those treaties.
The US did not become a signatory to Berne until 1988.
The 1952 Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) - now largely
a curiosity - was sponsored by UNESCO as an international
treaty on copyright for countries that disagreed with
Berne's terms. Some developing nations, the USSR, the
US and other American states considered that Berne was
biased towards the interests of Western Europe and was
too extreme in the protection of performers rights.
Industrial Property Agreements
The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial
Property, concluded in 1883, is one of the bases of
the international intellectual property system.
It applies to industrial property in the broadest sense:
inventions, trademarks, industrial designs, utility models
(a form of patent under the laws of some countries), trade
names and geographical
indications (indications of source and appellations
of origin). As of December 2002 some 164 states were part
of the Convention.
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), concluded
in 1970, makes it possible to simultaneously seek patent
protection for an invention in each of a large number
of countries by filing an 'international' patent application.
Such an application may be filed by anyone who is a citizen
or resident of a contracting state. The Treaty regulates
formal requirements with which any international application
The 'Madrid System for the International Registration
of Marks' is governed by two treaties: the Madrid Agreement
Concerning the International Registration of Marks
(Madrid Agreement) - concluded in 1891 - and the Protocol
Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International
Registration of Marks (Madrid Protocol), concluded
The Protocol introduced new features into the Madrid system,
addressing difficulties that prevented some countries
from adhering to the Madrid Agreement by rendering the
system more flexible and more compatible with the domestic
legislation of those countries. As of 2002 around 56 states
formed part of the Protocol
The Trademark Law Treaty, concluded in 1994, aims
to make national and regional trademark registration systems
more user-friendly through simplification and harmonization
of procedures. As of 2002 around 31 states were members
of the Treaty.
The 1957 Nice Agreement Concerning the International
Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes
of the Registration of Marks establishes a classification
of goods and services for the purposes of registering
trademarks and service marks. That Classification comprises
a list of classes (based on types of products and services)
- of which there are 34 for goods and 11 for services
- and an alphabetical list of the goods and services.
It involves 70 states.
The 1968 Locarno Agreement Establishing an International
Classification for Industrial Designs establishes
an international classification for industrial designs,
consisting of 32 classes and 223 subclasses based on different
types of products. It also comprises an alphabetical list
of goods with an indication of the classes and subclasses
into which these goods fall. The list contains some 6,600
indications of different kinds of goods.
Strasbourg Agreement Concerning the International Patent
Classification, concluded in 1971, establishes the
International Patent Classification (IPC), which divides
technology into 8 sections with approximately 69,000 subdivisions.
Each subdivision has a symbol which is allotted by the
national or regional industrial property office that publishes
the patent document. As of 2002 some 53 states had adhered
to the Agreement.
The Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition
of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent
Procedure was concluded in 1977 and eliminates the
need to deposit microorganisms for the purposes of patent
procedure in each country in which protection is sought.
Nairobi Treaty on the Protection of the Olympic Symbol
was concluded in 1981: all contracting states are obliged
to protect the Olympic symbol (the five interlaced rings)
against use for commercial purposes without the authorization
of the International Olympic Committee. Australia is one
of 41 contracting states as of 2002.
The 1999 Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning
the International Registration of Industrial Designs
aims to make the regime more responsive to the needs of
users and facilitate adherence by countries whose industrial
designs systems do not permit them to accede to the 1960
Hague Act. Switzerland and Ukraine were among the most
recent adhering states in 2002.
2000 Patent Law Treaty seeks to harmonize and streamline
formal procedures regarding of national and regional patent
applications and patents. With a significant exception
for the filing date requirements, the PLT provides maximum
sets of requirements which the office of a contracting
party may apply: the office may not lay down any other
formal requirements in respect of matters dealt with by
International Convention for the Protection of New
Varieties of Plants (UPOV), concluded in 1961, is
concerned with the protection of new varieties of plants
by an intellectual property right.
For the development of the Berne Convention we recommend
Sam Ricketson's magisterial The Berne Convention for
the Protection of Literary & Artistic Works (London:
Earlier bilateral developments are covered in James Barnes'
Authors, Publishers & Politicians: The Quest for
an Anglo-American Copyright Agreement, 1815-1854 (London:
Routledge 1974), Meredith McGill's American Literature
and the Culture of Reprinting, 1834-1853 (Philadelphia:
Uni of Pennsylvania Press 2002) and Simon Nowell Smith's
International Copyright Law and the Publisher in the
Reign of Queen Victoria (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1968).
Paul Goldstein's excellent International Copyright:
Principles, Law & Practice (New York: Oxford Uni
Press 2001) offers a broader account than Ricketson; we've
found it more accessible than the two volume International
Copyright Law & Practice (New York: Matthew Bender
1999) edited by Paul Geller.
We've pointed to studies of the global IP system/s in
the Geopolitics page of this guide. Some highlights are
Michael Ryan's Knowledge Diplomacy: Global Competition
& the Politics of Intellectual Property (Washington:
Brookings 1998), The Paradox of Intellectual Property
Lawmaking in the New Millennium: Universal Templates as
Terms of Surrender for Non-industrial Nations by
Endeshaw Assafa, and
The New Economic Diplomacy: Decision Making &
Negotiation in International Economic Relations (Aldershot:
Ashgate 2003) edited by Nicholas Bayne & Stephen Woolcock
and Suzanne Scotchmer's 2002 The Political Economy
of Intellectual Property Treaties (PDF). Papers
in Global Dimensions Of Intellectual Property Rights
In Science And Technology (Washington: National Academy
Press 1993) edited by Mitchel Wallerstein are also available
The 1967 United Nations Convention Establishing
the World Intellectual Property Organization came
into effect in 1974.
As the name suggests, that international agreement
established the World Intellectual Property Organization
WIPO replaced BIRPI. It covers all aspects of intellectual
property: copyright and industrial property.
It is located in Geneva and is an arm of the sprawling
United Nations bureaucracy - generally considered to be
one of the more comfortable arms, as one might expect
of a body that serves as the secretariat for ongoing diplomatic
negotiations. It has around 820 staff and continues to
expand. Unlike much of the UN it is primarily self-financed,
through fees for registration and arbitration services.
WIPOs activities include
acceptance of existing treaties (eg through training
in the Third World and initiatives such as World Intellectual
existing treaties and supporting the negotiation of
new treaties (a process that may involve many meetings
over a period of several years)
of intergovernmental cooperation through international
classification schemes, compilation of statistics and
maintenance of international databases
research, directly and through affiliates such as the
Washington-based International Intellectual Property
Institute (IIPI), responsible for the 55 page Museums
& the Digital Future report (PDF)
of international applications for patent, trade mark
and design registrations
of an arbitration service, for example relating to domain
name registration disputes (the UDRP
Doern's Global Change & Intellectual Property
Agencies: An Institutional Perspective (London: Pinter
1999) offers valuable insights.
WIPO operates in tandem - one critic describes the relationship
as a horizontal tango - with the more recent and arguably
more powerful World Trade Organization (WTO),
the multilateral trade body dealing with the Agreement
on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property
and other global trade treaties that replaced the
General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade (GATT) in
TRIPS covers copyright and industrial property (eg patents,
trademarks, designs); non-compliance by WTO member countries
may lead to trade sanctions. Although dismissed by
critics as "the wish list of the pharmaceutical industry"
it offers a mechanism for the resolution of disputes in
a way that emphasises multilateral transparent procedures
and encourages a predictable trade/investment environment
as a public good.
That is reflected in Article 7 of the Agreement, moving
debate about the objectives of international intellectual
property law beyond Berne in noting that
protection and enforcement of intellectual property
rights should contribute to the promotion of technological
innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of
technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and
users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive
to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of
rights and obligations.
reflects rather than supersedes the Berne Convention.
It has implicitly forced all developed economies and all
but a handful of developing economies to abide by Berne,
replacing the weaker Universal Copyright Convention (UCC)
that was relied upon by the US in particular until a few
decades ago. Consequences are highlighted in the 'Duration'
page of this guide.
Cooperation between WIPO and TRIPS is formalised through
the 1995 Cooperation Agreement (here),
which covers regular contact, information exchange and
treatment of members.
Christopher Arup's The New World Trade Organization
Agreements: Globalizing Law Through Services & Intellectual
Property (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni Press 2000) provides
a detailed introduction to the evolving WTO-WIPO relationship. It
is not an easy read but is worth the effort and might
be complemented by Deborah Cass' The Constitutionalization
of the World Trade Organization: Legitimacy, Democracy,
and Community in the International Trading System
(Oxford: Oxford Uni Press 2005), The WTO, The Internet
and Trade in Digital Products: EC-US Perspectives
(Oxford: Hart 2006) by Sacha Wunsch-Vincent and The
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade: A Commentary
(Oxford: Oxford Uni Press 2005) by Petros Mavroidis.
Other aspects are explored in An Anatomy of the
World Trade Organization (London: Kluwer 1997) edited
by Konstantinos Adamantopoulos.
The TRIPS Agreement: Drafting History & Analysis
(London: Sweet & Maxwell 1998) is a lucid analysis
by Daniel Gervais, complementing the broader treatment
in Michael Blakeney's Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual
Property Rights (London: Sweet & Maxwell 1996) and
David Vaver's 2001 The Enforcement of Copyright &
Related Rights under the TRIPS agreement (PDF)
and 1998 paper
Internationalizing Copyright Law: Implementing the
Peter Drahos' 2001 Bilateralism in Intellectual Property
is a cogent examination of the use of bilateral investment
treaties and intellectual property agreements by the US
and others to establish more extensive IP protection than
required by TRIPS.
There is a broader perspective in the exemplary Global
Business Regulation (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni Press
2000) and feisty Information Feudalism (London:
Earthscan 2002) by Drahos and John Braithwaite. The
Regulation of International Trade (London: Routledge
1999) by Michael Trebilcock & Robert Howse and The
Evolution of the Trade Regime: Politics, Law and Economics
of the GATT and the WTO (Princeton: Princeton Uni
Press 2006) by John Barton, Judith Goldstein, Timothy
Josling & Richard Steinberg are also of value in understanding
global regulatory regimes.
Christopher May's A Global Political Economy of Intellectual
Property Rights: The New Enclosures? (London: Routledge
2000) considers debates about the nature and regulation
of intellectual property in the networked economy. William
Alford's 'Making the World Safe for What: Intellectual
Property Rights, Human Rights & Foreign Economic Policy
in the Post-Cold War World', in the 1997 New York University
Journal of International Law & Politics, offers
a crisp analysis. We've highlighted other writings in
the North-South page of this
Anne Krueger edited The WTO As An International Organization
(Chicago: Uni of Chicago Press 1998), an excellent institutional
study. John Jackson's The World Trading System: Law
& Policy of International Economic Relations (Cambridge:
MIT Press 1997) and The Jurisprudence of GATT &
the WTO (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni Press 2000) are
dry; not recommended unless you are a specialist.
The Settlement of Disputes in International Law (Oxford:
Oxford Uni Press 2000) by John Collier & Vaughan Lowe,
The WTO and Technical Barriers to Trade (Cheltenham:
Elgar 2005) edited by Spencer Hudson & John Wilson
and The WTO & International Trade Law/ Dispute
Settlement (Cheltenham: Elgar 2005) edited by Petros
Mavroidis are also of value.
The Political Economy of the World Trading System:
From GATT to WTO (Oxford: Oxford Uni Press 1995) by
Bernard Hoekman & Michael Kostecki complements Drahos'
Global Business Regulation. For a view from the
left see Unholy Trinity: The IMF, World Bank and WTO
(London: Zed 2003) by Richard Peet, Behind the Scenes
at the WTO: The Real World of International Trade Negotiations
(London: Zed 2003) by Fatoumata Jawara & Aileen
Kwa and Whose Trade Organization?: A Comprehensive
Guide to the World Trade Organization (New York:
New Press 2004) by Lori Wallach, Patrick Woodall &
a global map
The 2001 WIPO Guide to Intellectual Property Worldwide
the intellectual property legislation in all nations,
along with their adherence to bilateral and multilateral
treaties. It also points to relevant organisations.
The following page looks at the regimes in particular
next page (other countries)