PIJIP Research Paper No. 4: WIPO and the ACTA Threat
Throughout September, PIJIP will release a series of Research Papers on ACTA. The series will be available at http://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/research/
PIJIP Research Paper No. 4
The new Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been seen as a potentially existential threat to the existing World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) – as a new plurilateral institution that could replace the older multilateral organization. The ACTA threat to WIPO has a number of predecessors. WIPO’s centrality to international intellectual property norm-setting encountered its first major challenge in 1952 when the Universal Copyright Convention was established under UNESCO. It encountered a second major challenge with the establishment of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (the TRIPs Agreement). The ACTA challenge thus potentially represents a third instance where a major competing norm-setting institution has challenged WIPO. In this paper I review past instances where WIPO has been challenged by an outside norm-setting institution and the responses taken to those challenges. Second, I outline the main proposals for an ACTA institution. Third, drawing on the past instances, I outline the various possible forms that an ACTA-WIPO relationship could take, and various strategies that WIPO could use to maintain its role in the international intellectual property system. Finally, I outline a number of public policy concerns that the institutional proposals for ACTA pose.