Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



The GATT Arrangement would, in short, establish high international standards for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights of all kinds--including patents for biotechnology processes and products, patents for microorganisms, copyrights for computer programs, and the protection of trade secrets and integrated circuit layout designs. The parties to the GATT Arrangement would undertake to adapt their national laws and enforcement mechanisms accordingly and they are to agree on a dispute settlement mechanism that will provide for member states the possibility of resorting to retaliation, including withdrawal of other GATT concessions or obligations, against a state that fails to carry out effectively its obligations under the GATT Arrangement.

The United States proposal has found support among GATT member states and within industry circles, and one may also assume that most intellectual property lawyers will welcome the intended improvements of the international protection of intellectual property. The United States proposal raises, nevertheless, issues that need to be examined further. Part II of this Article examines the question of competence. The question of whether, and to what extent, principles of the old intellectual property conventions need to be taken into account during the future GATT negotiations is addressed in Part III. Finally, Part IV explores whether, and to what extent, the criticism of alleged lack of enforcement measures in these conventions is justified. This Article will examine these issues primarily from the point of view of the Paris Convention signed in 1883, which until now has constituted the very basis of the international protection of industrial property.