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The Structure of Intellectual Property Law

The Structure of Intellectual Property Law

Can One Size Fit All?

ATRIP Intellectual Property series

Edited by Annette Kur and Vytautas Mizaras

This well-researched and highly topical book analyses whether the ever-increasing degree of sophistication in intellectual property law necessarily leads to fragmentation and inconsistency, or whether the common principles informing the system are sustainable enough to offer a solid and resilient framework for legal development.

Chapter 14: The Concept of Sustainable Development in International IP Law – New Approaches from EU Economic Partnership Agreements?

Henning Grosse Ruse- Khan

Subjects: law - academic, intellectual property law


Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan* The international intellectual property system cannot operate in isolation from broader public policy questions such as how to meet human needs as basic health, food and a clean environment. (Pascal Lamy)1 In international law, the concept of sustainable development has an ambiguous meaning and several distinct connotations. Amongst those, the principle of integration and reconciliation of economic, social and environmental aspects functions as its core element. This principle finds support in several general (as well as IP-related) provisions of the first comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), signed in October 2008 between the European Community and its member states and the CARIFORUM group of Caribbean Countries. This agreement may serve as a template: not only for EPA-negotiations with other regional groups of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries; but equally for other * Senior Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property and Competition Law, Munich (Germany); email: This chapter has been prepared within the framework of a MPI project on reforming the international intellectual property system. It is based on a policy paper for the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the article ‘A Real Partnership for Development? Sustainable Development as Treaty Objective in European Economic Partnership Agreements and Beyond’, published in the Journal of International Economic Law, 13(1) (2010). 1 Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), speech delivered at the WIPO Conference on Intellectual Property and Public Policy Issues, Geneva, 14 July 2009 – online available at

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