At this centennial event, we have been asked to reflect on the most consequential developments in international intellectual property law of the last 100 years, with an eye towards important future developments as well. This is no small task, given the proliferation of intellectual property-related treaties and the profound changes in business structures, manufacturing, and trade that the last century has seen. The rise of the multinational corporation has been fueled in part by changes to trade laws, and the inclusion of intellectual property in trade-related treaties has facilitated cross-border research and development, manufacturing, and distribution of goods subject to intellectual property rights. I think the most consequential development in the last century both reflected and facilitated these changes, and that is the broad adoption of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Law (TRIPS Agreement)--an agreement made as part of the World Trade Organization Agreement in 1994. The TRIPS Agreement has arguably led to the biggest substantive changes in intellectual property law in countries throughout the world in the last 100 years. As such, it merits discussion. But I am not the first speaker, and there have been other developments that were hugely consequential for intellectual property rights globally. So, instead of focusing on the substantive changes required by the TRIPS Agreement, I want to discuss changes that are ostensibly about the process of intellectual property rights-acquisition, and patent acquisition specifically, that have affected both the practice and substance of intellectual property rights protection. In particular, the centralization of patent filing that was facilitated by the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) also made it nearly inevitable that the United States and Canada would switch from their first-to-invent to first-to-file patent systems. The PCT has changed global patent prosecution and made it more efficient, but this sort of procedural streamlining can often make substantive changes seem inevitable.

This abstract has been taken from the author's introduction.

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41 Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal 447-456 (2023)


Written for the 100 Years of International Intellectual Property Law Panel (2022) held during the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Branch of the International Law Association in New York City.