A Handbook of Contemporary Research
Edited by Daniel J. Gervais
Chapter 2: International patent law: Principles, major instruments and institutional aspects
The search for more innovation for the benefit of the human condition has always driven the human mind, and one early attempt to achieve innovative results was to create incentives encouraging private initiative. Against this background, patent systems were created and developed, and today, some of the most important systems at the international level include the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (Paris Convention), the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the Patent Law Treaty (PLT), and a number of regional patent systems. But while these systems have been – and still are – very useful, there are also questions about the social and economic impact of patent systems and of their possible harmonization, which have led to exploring ways to improve those systems without necessarily imposing further obligations or restrictions on states. The present contribution gives a (necessarily incomplete) overview of both harmonization measures that have been taken at the normative level, as well as of other, more practical, efforts aiming at making the international patent system more user-friendly, more efficient, and also more adapted to respond to developing countries’ needs, without removing the existing policy space of governments. The evolution of international law may take different forms. Harmonization of laws is one form among others that has been utilized regularly. Since the mid 2000s, discussions at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) with respect to the normative development of patent law have shown contrasting views toward harmonization.
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