Vereinheitlichung des Immaterialgüterrechts: Strukturen, Akteure, Zwecke
Volume 81 (2017) / Issue 1, pp. 158-193 (36)
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Intellectual property (IP) law is among the oldest and most comprehensive areas of uniform private law. Nearly all countries are members of the World Intellectual Property Organization and as such agree »to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world«. The problem, however, is that this legal protection is subject to the equally universally acknowledged territoriality principle. IP rights are limited to the territory of the country granting them and sometimes remain available only for national citizens/local residents. The article provides an overview of the legal measures taken by different actors to address the tension between global communication and fragmented IP protection. It distinguishes between (i) the harmonization of national IP laws, (ii) the creation of supranational procedures, rights, and courts, and (iii) informal cooperations between private stakeholders and patent offices. The guiding question is whether international IP law is primarily concerned with establishing a global level playing field or whether it pursues a more tangible aim, namely the strengthening of IP protection »throughout the world«. The article concludes with a critical assessment of the narrative that considers international IP law a great success because of its indeed impressive growth.