Engelberg Center co-hosts conference on Intellectual Property Rights

On May 1 and 2, the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy and the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition and Tax Law hosted a conference to consider limits on the expansion of intellectual property rights within the international framework. “Enough is Enough!: Ceilings on Intellectual Property Rights” brought experts from around the world to Vanderbilt Hall and included presentations from NYU faculty, including Rochelle Dreyfuss, Pauline Newman Professor of Law and director of the Engelberg Center, Harry First, director of the Trade Regulation Program and Charles L. Denison Professor of Law, Diane Zimmerman, Samuel Tilden Professor of Law, and Eleanor Fox, Walter J. Derenberg Professor of Trade Regulation.

Six panels spanned the two-day event. Each panel explored aspects of the question whether enough was, indeed enough: whether the level of international intellectual property law was ratcheting up to a point where innovation was stifled and the fruits of discovery were put beyond the reach of all but the world’s richest occupants. Friday morning, following an introduction by Dreyfuss and an overview by Global Visiting Professor of Law Annette Kur, Zimmerman led a panel called “Taking Stock.” After presentations suggesting that the level of protection was rising, attendees considered strategies for bringing the system into better balance. Human rights came to the forefront in this discussion, featuring Associate Professor of Clinical Law, Smita Narula, and Larry Helfer ’92, who considered the obstacles in using human rights as a balance to intellectual property standards. Other panels considered adding new “maximum standard” provisions to the TRIPS Agreement or revising the Agreement’s existing limitations and exceptions.

On Saturday, Barton Beebe and Katherine Strandburg, who will both join the NYU Law faculty this fall, were part of a panel with Dreyfuss that explored how these strategies would affect patent law. The final panel, moderated by Josef Drexl, a former Global Visiting Professor from the Max Planck Institute, included presentations by First and Fox on the role that antitrust law could play in readjusting the balance between proprietary and access interests. The event, which successfully brought formal attention to this emerging issue, included representatives from various civil society and intergovernmental organizations, and attendees from Australia, Chile, England, Germany, India, the Netherlands, and Sweden. The opportunity to share views and to contrast strategies and approaches is the hallmark of Engelberg Center events.