How do companies or individuals protect their intellectual property overseas? This has been the topic for robust discussions among content producers, providers, and distributors in the entertainment industry for some time. Complications exist in protecting IP rights abroad in countries such as China. The various international agreements do not always provide seamless protection of IP across boarders, as they do not always conform to the laws in each member country.
A distinguished group of experts tackled issues of international Intellectual Property for an audience of JD candidates at Southwestern Law School recently, with the speakers including: Professor Robert E. Lutz, recently honored as “International Lawyer of the Year” by the State Bar of California International Law Section; Professor Silvia F. Faerman, (right) author of many scholarly articles concerning international trademark and patent protection with a focus on Argentine law; and Chris Reed, Senior Counsel of Content Protection Policy with Fox Entertainment Group and formerly Senior Adviser for Policy to the Register of Copyrights at the United States Copyright Office.
Lutz (left) discussed how the United States signed the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) accord as a non-self-executing agreement. That is, he explained, typical of these kinds of agreements with respect to the U.S.: A non-self executing treaty does not become judicially enforceable within a country until its provisions have been further implemented by legislation. So even though countries may agree to sign these various international accords, the countries’ citizens may not be able to invoke provisions of the treaty; it takes additional implementation by a specified government to confer domestic enforcement responsibilities on governmental agencies or on civil society.
Professor Faerman explained how intellectual property laws in the civil-law countries focus more on protecting the author rather than the corporate owner of copyright. For instance, those countries provide moral rights protection to the authors atop economic rights. Unlike the economic rights on a copyrighted work, moral rights cannot be assigned and waivers are unenforceable. By contrast, the United States recognizes moral rights on a very limited type of works, and those rights may be waived by the author.
Reed (right) spoke about the national and international protection of content, such as movies, television shows; he explained how the entertainment industry uses technological protection measures, afforded legal protection by certain international agreements, to offer content on different platforms, at different times, often at different price points, thereby advancing consumers’ interests.