A new paradigm for international intellectual property?

A new book co-authored by a Victoria University academic explores how co-operation on intellectual property (IP) issues is powering economic growth in South East Asia.

Professor Graeme Austin sits onstage at the launch of his book in Singepore

The Faculty of Law’s Professor Graeme Austin recently launched International Intellectual Property and the ASEAN Way: Pathways to Interoperability (Cambridge University Press, 2017) in Singapore. Co-edited with Associate Professor Elizabeth Siew-Kuan Ng from the National University of Singapore, the book discusses the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) style of inter-state cooperation on IP issues. ASEAN was formed to promote political and economic cooperation and regional stability in Southeast Asia, and is now in its 50th year.

Intellectual property "interoperability" allows each country to maintain its own diversity while working towards common goals, and IP has emerged as one of ASEAN’s key policy platforms.  The book compares and contrasts the ASEAN model to other approaches in regional cooperation including in Europe and Latin America. If ASEAN were a single entity, it would be the world’s fifth largest economy. Even so, its intellectual property relations have so far been understudied – and Professor Austin expects there will be wider lessons from the project. “The ASEAN IP interoperability agenda might offer a way forward for international IP relationships in other parts of the world,” he says. “Working with Professor Ng Siew-Kuan to bring the thinking of this extraordinary group of experts to a wider readership has been a very rewarding experience.”

The book launch took place during the Design Law Reform Conference, jointly organised by the Oxford Intellectual Property Research Centre at the University of Oxford and the National University of Singapore. The conference brought together leading academics and practitioners from IP offices, as well as design and business experts, to discuss design law reform internationally.