From Niall Ferguson to Fareed Zakaria, commentators have paid growing attention to the rise of Asia and its implications for the West. Recent years have also seen the emergence of a growing volume of literature on intellectual property developments in Asia, in particular China and India. Few commentators, however, have explored whether Asian countries will take unified positions on international intellectual property law and policy.
Commissioned for the Inaugural International Intellectual Property Scholars Series, this article fills the void by examining intellectual property developments in relation to the decades-old 'Asian values' debate. Drawing on the region's diversity in economic and technological developments and the continuous rivalry among the different regional powers, the article contends that one can neither locate any distinct values, approaches, or practices on intellectual property law and policy nor identify any established pan-Asian positions in the area.
The article further explores the role Asian countries will play if these emerging countries exert more influence on the development of the international intellectual property system. It points out that, although Japan and South Korea are unlikely to join others to form a united front for the Asian developing world, China, India, and ASEAN members may be willing to work together to form a normative community. This article concludes with a discussion of ten key items that will find their way to the community's common policy agenda if such a community indeed exists.Those items are
2. Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expressions
3. Geographical Indications
4. Access to Essential Medicines
5. Internet and Other New Technologies
6. Climate Change
7. Alternative Innovation Models
8. Special and Differential Treatment
9. Uneven Economic and Technological Developments
10. Abuse of Rights and Restraint on Trade
Yu suggests that -
in the area of intellectual property law and policy, one can neither locate any underlying distinct values, approaches, or practices nor identify established pan-Asian positions. Nevertheless, the middle- and low-income Asian countries may be able to work together to foster regional positions to influence future international intellectual property negotiations. While Japan and, to some extent, South Korea are unlikely to join other Asian countries in taking a strong pro-development stand for Asia, China, India, and ASEAN could team up to maximize their leverage and voice in the international intellectual property arena. They could help shape the development of a powerful regional normative community.
Although the positions and interests of the twelve members of Chindiasean continue to differ, developing a united front for these countries most certainly will help ensure a more desirable bargaining outcome in areas that range from the reshaping of global intellectual property enforcement norms to the protection of traditional knowledge and cultural expressions to the promotion of access to essential medicines. Having unified positions among these countries may also set alternative paths for other less developed countries outside Asia. Thus, from the standpoint of international intellectual property policymaking, the growing intellectual property developments in Asia deserve our greater scholarly attention, even if this century does not end up becoming an Asian century.