Skip to Main Content

Law 797-J: International Intellectual Property: Regional Treaty Organizations



Comunidad Andina  (Andean Community)

This is a customs union with four members—Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.  This free trade zone  is based on the 1969 Cartagena Agreement.  The Agreement includes harmonization of intellectual property laws and the web site includes decisions, several of which address intellectual property issues such as traditional knowledge and genetic resources.    (Most of the documentation is in Spanish.)


Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM)

Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas Establishing the Caribbean Community Including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy  is a regional organization of fifteen Caribbean states with goals of free trade and economic integration among Caribbean states.  Article 66  of the revised treaty governs intellectual  property rights.  The Caribbean Court of Justice, established in 2001 has twelve members and   has  both original and appellate jurisdiction.  In the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction the CCJ  considers and determines appeals in both civil and criminal matters from common law courts within the jurisdictions of member states.  In  exercising  its appellate jurisdiction the CCJ is  the highest municipal court in the Region.  In respect to original  jurisdiction the CCJ  acts as  international tribunal applying rules of international law in f the interpretation and application of the Treaty.  The court web site has both types of decisions.  (There does not seem to be a search function for these cases.)


Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)

FTAA is an ongoing project to create a large free trade zone in the Western Hemisphere.  There is a negotiating group on intellectual property rights and links to national intellectual property legislation.


Mercosur/Mercosul  (Mercado Sur, Common Market of the South)

This is a group of five South American States, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay , and Venezuela  which have formed a common market based on the Treaty of Asunción.   Member states have adopted the Protocol for Harmonization of Intellectual Property Rights  (in Spanish).  Other documents are on the web site in Spanish and Portuguese.


North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

The North American Free Trade Agreement,  which  came into effect in 1994 with three member states formed the NAFTA Secretariat .  NAFTA includes the elimination of trade barriers and a dispute resolution system.  Although the majority of reported disputes involve goods, intellectual property is with the scope of NAFTA.   (Part  six, Section nineteen)  The web site includes  the Status  of the Dispute Settlement Proceedings and Panel  Decisions and Reports.


Organization of American States

The Organization of American States (OAS) is a regional organization formed in 1948 by the Charter of the Organization of American States.    Its primary goals include promoting democracy and human rights.  In 1995 it created the Trade Unit which has a specialized   web site for intellectual property.  It provides links to national IP legislation and national IP authorities.  

Regional Trade Organizations

CC BY-SA 3.0,



African Regional Intellectual Property Association has nineteen, mostly English speaking, member states.  The five protocols  are as follows:

  • Harare Protocol Administrative Instructions Under the Regulations for Implementing the Protocol on Patents, Industrial Designs and Utility Models
  • Swakopmund Protocol on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Folklore
  • Banjul Protocol on Marks
  • Harare Protocol on Patents, Utility Models & Designs
  •  Lusaka Agreement on the Creation of the Organization

The ARIPA online service provides on line filing, forms, and the IP Digital Library.


Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI) was created by the Bangui Agreement and has seventeen primarily French speaking states trying to harmonize their intellectual property systems.



Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a twenty one member regional trade association not based on any treaty or agreement.  Its primary focus is trade and development.  One of the groups within APEC is the Intellectual Property Rights Experts Group which helps countries with TRIPS implementation.  Among the topics it has discussed are harmonization of IP issues such as traditional knowledge.


Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)  with ten member states was established in 1967 with the ASEAN Declaration. They have developed the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Intellectual Property Cooperation.   The ASEAN Intellectual Property Portal includes national legislation, a case law database, statistical information and other publications.

ASEAN has coordinated with the EU in the EU-ASEAN Intellectual Property Rights Cooperation Program



Eurasian Patent Orgaization, EAPO, established in 1996 with the Eurasian Patent Convention, has nine member states.  The English site has news and some related legal information.  Forms, patent searching and other information is only available in Russian.


European Union

Within the EU’s  goals are many areas that relate to intellectual property.  The most important one Is harmonizing internal EU laws. 

EU copyright  legislation  consists of ten directives, “which harmonise essential rights of authors and of performers, producers and broadcasters.”  The copyright directives  plus three others that have copyright components are linked from the  Digital Agenda for Europe--EU Copyright Legislation site as are news, reports, and other materials.  The web site also lists the member states’ and the EU’s obligations under other international IP treaties.   

The other areas of IP (patents, trademarks, industrial design, geographical indications and trade marks) are on the European Commission, growth industry web site.  The site links to legislation for trade marks . biotechnical inventions, and enforcement of intellectual property rights. .  A directive for trade secrets is underway and as of now there is no EU legislation for geographical indications.  Unitary patent protection and a Unified Patent Court are also under development.  In 2004 the EU joined the Madrid Protocol so community trademarks can be a basis for international trade mark applications.

The Court of Justice of the European Union has developed a large body of case law on various iP issues.

EU Intellectual Property Law: Exercises in Harmonization, a chapter from the Oxford Handbook of European Union Law


European Patent Office (EPO)

The EPO was created in 1973 with the European Patent Convention which was subsequently revised coming into force in 2007.  The web site includes decisions from the boards of appeal as well as case law from member states and links to databases  to search patents and patent applications.

Espacenet is the EPO search engine


European Free Trade Association (EFTA)

EFTA is an intergovernmental organization formed to promote free trade and economic integration for its four member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.  Article 19 of the EFTA Convention with Annex J  covers intellectual property rights.  The Agreement on the European Economic Area  EEA  governs free trade, economic relations and free movement  between EFTA and its member states with the EU and its member states.  Annex XVII  governs intellectual property.


Benelux Organization for Intellectual Property (BOIP)

Benelux Convention on Intellectual Property established the Benelux Organization for Intellectual Property (trademarks and designs).   Article 31 of the Benelux Treaty (2008) recognizes the BOIP as an independent organization governed by the Convention on Intellectual Property. The  Benelux Office for Intellectual Property  is the official organization for the registration of trademarks and designs in the three countries.  One can search for trademarks and designs, file applications,  and file for registration from the web site.