International Intellectual Property
Today, intellectual property is, by its very nature, international in scope. In this knowledge-based economy of the 21st century, the global implications of intellectual property are more fascinating than ever.
IP in a Borderless World
Today, intellectual property is, by its very nature, international in scope, and Professor Jane Ginsburg’s work takes many forms. She is president of the U.S. branch of the Association Littéraire et Artistique Internationale (ALAI), founded in Paris in 1878 (with Victor Hugo at the helm), to develop an international convention for the protection of literary and artistic property. The first-ever ALAI conference in the United States, hosted by Professor Ginsburg, was held at Columbia. She has also taught copyright law at French universities and serves on the boards of journals based abroad. With Professor Sam Ricketson of the University of Melbourne, she co-authored International Copyright and Neighboring Rights: The Berne Convention and Beyond (Oxford University Press, 2006), which covers the development of international agreements affecting copyright and related rights from the Berne Convention in 1886 to the present day.
China’s economic growth has made it a hot topic in IP law. Columbia is the premier locale for studying the Chinese legal system, and its Center for Chinese Legal Studies was a significant draw for Professor Tim Wu. Professor Wu—who speaks fluent Mandarin—takes a particular interest in the development of Internet use in China.
With Professor Benjamin Liebman, Professor Wu has undertaken a study of how the Internet is affecting Chinese judges and the Chinese legal system. Some use the Internet in innovative ways, such as by keeping blogs, he says. “Using the Internet, judges have started forming an informal commons, or case system, to find out what other judges have done. Strictly speaking, they’ve never had precedents, but using this informal system, they are beginning to develop them,” he adds.
A Global Commons in Cyberspace
The relationship between the patent system and drug pricing in the United States and the developing world is a central question in bioethics and one of great interest to Professor Harold Edgar ’67. Although reticent to say that patents and bioethics are on a collision course, he concedes that some bioethicists view such patents as troubling.
Still, he defends patents as crucial in promoting new ideas and products and argues that the problems of bringing drugs to the developing world are related less to patents than to the problem of diversion of goods. He currently is working on a project on alternatives to patents in pharmaceutical development.