Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


J. H. Reichman

First Page



The first symposium held on the proposals to include intellectual property rights within the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations' was published by The Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law in 1989. It seemed only fitting to return to this same Journal with a retrospective evaluation of the finished product by members of the American Association of Law Schools' (AALS) Intellectual Property Section in 1996. That product is Annex IC of the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO Agreement), better known as the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement or Agreement). This Agreement has already spawned a voluminous literature, including other symposiums, which attests to its cardinal importance and to the new departure it represents for international intellectual property relations.

However, no previous symposium has sought to gauge the responses to these developments of the professors who teach intellectual property law at U.S. universities. In planning this year's meeting of the AALS Intellectual Property Section, therefore, the officers felt the time had come to rectify this imbalance. The provisions of the TRIPS Agreement will set a new research agenda for the foreseeable future. At the compliance stage, the opinions of publicists will play a role in interpreting these provisions and, especially, in applying the WTO Agreement's new dispute-resolution machinery to actual disputes between member states. By acquainting legislators, administrators, and industrialists with the spectrum of scholarly opinion in this country, we hope to better prepare them for the challenges and risks of the coming transitional period and the tensions it seems certain to elicit.

The officers, therefore, invited a representative sampling of U.S. intellectual property scholars to explain and assess the TRIPS Agreement for the benefit of the many colleagues who gathered at the San Antonio meeting on January 4, 1996. Their stimulating, often passionate, and thoroughly heterogenous contributions comprise the bulk of this special Symposium Issue. In the introductory remarks that follow, I will try to fit the panelists' observations into a larger framework and to distill some of their findings and insights concerning the future prospects for successful implementation of the TRIPS Agreement.