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Intellectual Property Rights in a Globalized Digital Era: Multilateralism or Bilateralism ?



Today, intellectual property faces new challenges of a globalized economy in the digital age. On the international scene, the world’s most powerful States are pushing to impose their standards of protection of intellectual property rights onto less powerful countries by an increased use of bilateralism, thereby relegating to the background former large multilateral conventions once acclaimed at the heart of international organizations. The present contribution examines the role of the European Union as a global actor in the intellectual property world. The action plan of the EU is indeed characterized by a logical and effective triple action. Firstly, by adopting a coherent regionalist approach, it tends to unify its member States’ intellectual property rights through directives and regulations, flexible tools which allow to adapt quickly to the technological and digital innovations of our time. Secondly, the EU makes sure to actively participate in major bilateral negotiations, in order to defend intellectual property interests of its member States collectively against world powers like the United States of America, therefore ensuring its competitiveness in the world. Thirdly and most importantly, at the international level, the EU favors a modernized multilateralism in a connected world in which creations, innovations and imagination transcend borders. This paper argues that while bilateralism has been skyrocketing over the past few years, a return to a modernized multilateral approach must be advocated. The EU has and will play a key role in defending a coherent and equitable international framework for intellectual property.


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