This Article examines the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with a focus on the intellectual property norms that it seeks to develop. The first half of the Article focuses on the RCEP Agreement as a mega-regional agreement. It begins by briefly discussing the historical origins of the RCEP. It then explores three possible scenarios in which the RCEP Agreement will help shape trade and intellectual property norms in the Asia-Pacific region. Specifically, the Article evaluates the scenarios in which the agreement will function as a rival pact, a building block, and an alternative path. The second half of this Article turns to a more specific focus on intellectual property norms that are being established through the RCEP negotiations. It not only discusses the latest leaked draft of the RCEP intellectual property chapter, but it also closely analyzes this chapter in five distinct areas: copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret, and intellectual property enforcement. This Article then tackles the question concerning whether the RCEP Agreement will contain an intellectual property chapter--and, if so, whether such a chapter will look like the intellectual property chapter in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. The Article concludes by exploring whether the RCEP intellectual property chapter will, and should, contain high or low protection and enforcement standards.Table of Contents I. Introduction II. Historical Origins III. Three Possible Scenarios A. Rival Pact B. Building Block C. Alternative Path D. Summary IV. Draft Intellectual Property Chapter A. Copyright B. Trademark C. Patent D. Trade Secret E. Intellectual Property Enforcement F. Summary V. Final Intellectual Property Chapter A. No Chapter B. TPP-Like Chapter C. TPP-Lite Chapter VI. Intellectual Property Policy Dilemma A. Lower Standards B. Higher Standards VII. Conclusion
In the past few years, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (1) (TPP) has garnered considerable media, policy, and scholarly attention. (2) Although the TPP Agreement was signed in Auckland, New Zealand on February 4, 2016, and has been described as the Obama administration's "cardinal priority and a cornerstone of [its] Pivot to Asia," (3) the agreement received very limited support, if any, from the presidential candidates representing both the Democratic and Republican Parties.
On the campaign trail, Donald Trump made his opposition loud and clear by lambasting the TPP as "another disaster, done and pushed by special interests who want to rape [the] country." (4) After he entered office, he followed through by signing a memorandum directing the United States Trade Representative to "withdraw [the United States] as a signatory of the TPP and ... from the TPP negotiating process." (5) Released on the first day of his first full week in office, the document stated, "it is the intention of [his new] Administration to deal directly with individual countries on a one-on-one (or bilateral) basis in negotiating future trade deals." (6) Not only did the Trump administration abandon the TPP Agreement after six years of exhaustive negotiations, but it also shifted policy emphasis away from regional and plurilateral trade agreements. (7)
While the TPP was catching public attention,...