Many Pacific island countries are currently considering whether to introduce intellectual property legislation, or whether to amend existing legislation.
One of the drivers of this process are negotiations to join multilateral Free Trade Organisations such as the World Trade Organisation and to sign bilateral Trade Agreements such as the European Union’s Economic Partnership Agreement and the proposed PACER Plus agreement with Australia and New Zealand. Another driver is concern that the traditional knowledge of the country is currently not adequately protected from the risk of exploitation by third parties.
Decisions about what sort of intellectual property regime exists in a particular country can have significant impacts on that country’s development and the lives of its people, particularly in the areas of agriculture, education, health and adapting to climate change. International experience has demonstrated that although intellectual property laws can bring benefits, they can also undermine development by threatening food security, restricting access to knowledge and medicines, and impeding technological transfer and development. State-based intellectual property regimes may also have an impact on customary laws and institutions that currently regulate access to traditional knowledge in the country.
The purpose of this research project is to enable a better understanding of the potential advantages and disadvantages of different models of intellectual property protection in the particular context of the Pacific island countries, to better inform the decisions that will need to be made concerning these issues in the next few years.
The specific aims of the project are to:
The project is being conducted by Miranda Forsyth (RegNet, ANU), Katharina Serrano (University of the South Pacific) and Sue Farran(University of Northumbria) but is intended to be collaborative and involve as many people as possible. To this end a website has been established to share the results of their research and act as a 'one stop shop' for information concerning intellectual property laws in the Pacific region.