Exploring JEPA: Intellectual Property in the New EU-Japan Trade Deal
The European Union and Japan recently negotiated a new international trade deal—the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (JEPA)—which came into force just over a year ago. The trade agreement has been colloquially referred to as as the "cheese-for-automobiles" deal because of its focus on liberalizing the EU's ability to import food products into Japan and Japan's ability to import automobiles into the EU with lower tariffs.
But the agreement also has implications for Intellectual Property (IP) holders in both countries which some have argued will have a bigger economic impact on Japan than the tariffs. For instance, the EU has unsurprisingly secured nearly 80% of the 273 Geographical Indicators (GI) granted protection under the agreement, thus continuing its stronghold over the use of geographical names used to indicate a product's quality and reputation. Local Japanese producers of "champagne" and other products that use European GIs will have to adjust to this new reality ushered in by JEPA by transitioning their brands and adjusting product names accordingly.
However, the impacts to Japan's IP laws and protection regime will not go unnoticed either. In many instances, Japanese law will have to rise-up to meet the EU's existing IP laws and standards, particularly when it comes to artist resale rights and the protections surrounding pharmaceutical and agricultural marketing dating. While some of these changes may be welcome to Japanese artists or companies who have seen the EU systems as preferable, they speak to the influence and control around IP standard that the EU held in the negotiation room.
The legal and economic impacts of JEPA, and how the IP protections within the agreement contribute to these impacts, is, indeed, quite interesting. If you are interested in reading more not the matter, I am happy to announce that my journal article, co-authored with two brilliant faculty from my UK alma mater, is now available for free on SSRN:
Bonadio, Enrico and McDonagh, Luke and Sillanpaa, Tiffany, Intellectual Property
Aspects of the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (February 21, 2020).
International Trade Law & Regulation 2 (2020).
Available at SSRN:https://ssrn.com/abstract=3607202