Intellectual Property in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)


BEYOND TARIFFS: TRADE RELATIONS AND THE TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONSHIP IN THE 21ST CENTURY, BMW Center for German and European Studies, Georgetown University, February 6, 2015.

Back in February, I gave a presentation on intellectual property in the TPP and the TTIP at the TAPS Conference at the BMW Center for German and European Studies at Georgetown. It had been a long while since I had prepared a presentation for contents involving the European region, because I had focused on U.S.-Northeast Asian relations and policymaking for the most of my PhD life. But being surrounded by a bunch of German and French colleagues, I was reminded of the years of training and work prior to my PhD life – particularly my days at the UN in Geneva in 2005 and my language training in France and Switzerland in 2002 when I was focusing more on the European economies. When I was studying in France in 2002, the Euro had just come into being and French francs and Euros were both in circulation in a transitional period. Who would have ever thought that the EU would stumble over economic troubles? Perhaps it was predictable for some, but what mattered more, or caused more significant shift in the global economic order in the following years was – the rise of China. The economic contest amongst regions – Europe, North America, and Asia – is still ongoing, while turbulence ensues in the Middle East and Africa. (Now I’m being reminded of my days at the UNSC when I worked on sanctions against Somalia, Syria, and Iraq…)

The conference covered a lot of topics relating to cross regional investment between the U.S. and Europe, the weakening of NATO on strategic terms, and at the bottom of it all, the ongoing TTIP (epitomized by EU Ambassador to the U.S. David O’Sullivan’s speech). The main takeaway from the conference for me as a researcher was that IP in the TPP and the TTIP are completely different things. Yes, there are commonly discussed components of patents, copyright, trademark, and trade secrets in both negotiations. But the level of negotiations are different, because the concept of intellectual property itself is inherently of European origin. European standards are higher than the U.S., and the Europeans are more concerned about lowering of their standards, whereas the U.S. is seeking to elevate IP standards in Asia. It is a repetition of the North-South divide in trade negotiations, and it’s just that it is not happening in Geneva. The U.S. has the upper hand at the moment, but if the TPP falls through, the U.S. will have a hard time recovering its status as a global economic leader.

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