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Current Developments in U.S. IPR Law and Policy

The largest controversy in intellectual property law and policy today concerns the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which the United States and 30 partners signed in 2011-2012. It is being criticized in the United States both for its content (especially by Internet users) and for the process of approval.

The United States also pursues its interests through the Special 301 law (19 U.S.C. 2242). This law requires that the USTR annually identify “those foreign countries that (A) deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights, or (B) deny fair and equitable market access to United States persons that rely upon intellectual property protection,” and also indicate which of them should be made subject to the threat of retaliation. When the law was first enacted in the 1980s these threats were made unilaterally, but since the conclusion of the Uruguay Round and the entry into force of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights the United States has instead brought cases against countries in the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body. Decision are due at the end of April.

:: IP Agreements in the WTO :: Agreements Administered by WIPO :: U.S. IP Laws

The original IP provisions of GATT 1947 was Article XX(d), as supplemented or modified by provisions in articles XII(c)3(iii) (balance of payments), XVIII(10) (economic development). The principal IP agreement in the WTO regime is now the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

See the provisions on IP in the Doha Ministerial Declaration and the corresponding provisions in the final but unadopted (13 September 2003) version of the Cancún Ministerial Declaration.


The following intellectual property agreements administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization are all incorporated in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights:

See also the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The main U.S. laws dealing with these issues are the "Special 301" intellectual property statute and the Unfair Practices (Section 337).

See also the law requiring a Strategic Plan for Intellectual Property Enforcement, as well as the 2011 edition of this plan (PDF document).

See the U.S. negotiating objectives on intellectual property from the Trade Act of 2002.