Lead Research Organisation: City University London
Department Name: Law


Japan has undertaken a unique approach in its international economic agreements with other countries, concentrating on concluding treaties, which cover a wide range of matters (trade, services investment and competition) rather than simply trade in goods, as many other countries have done. Following its departure from the EU, the UK will need to develop its own approach to international economic treaties to fit its economic needs. Similarities in the size and makeup of the UK and Japanese economies suggests that the two countries could learn from each other in terms of their international economic relations with other countries, and with each other. The UK may wish to adopt the Japanese style of comprehensive economic treaties or to pursue economic treaties with more than one country at once. Additionally, both the UK and Japan are members of the World Trade Organization, a global body that oversees barriers to trade in goods and services among almost every country in the world. Since this organization has been struggling recently because of disagreements on several spheres of economic activity, the UK and Japan are well placed to instigate reforms to the organization to help it fulfil its mandate for improving the global economy.

Convergence of standards in regulatory cooperation is at the heart of contemporary global governance. Researchers, from early to mid to late career, explore the legal significance of EU-Japan Economic partnership Agreement as the largest trading area in the world and the future of its integration with the UK in the post-Brexit area. The research involves UK and Japanese trade, IP and data experts in political science, politics and international relations analysing the rules and standards governing over half a billion citizens and the consequences of trilateral arrangements on the agreement of standards on data in the post-Brexit era.

The protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights underpins many aspects of trade between the EU, UK and Japan. With respect to the protection of copyrights, trade marks, patents and trade secrets, companies based in the EU, UK and Japan are world leaders, selling their goods and services in many key areas of global industry, including film and music, robotics, digital electronics and information technology, engineering, and fashion. Intellectual property strategies are key to these businesses and reliance on these forms of IP provides revenue for investment in new technologies. With Brexit on the horizon it is necessary to evaluate whether the enforcement systems for protection patents and trade secrets in the EU, UK and Japan are set at an optimal level. With a 3-hour round table discussion at Keio and a follow up 2-hour presentation and discussion at City we aim to consider from a comparative perspective the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in the EU, UK and Japan, and analyse the impact of variances of protection may have on overall trade. A particular focus will be on the impact of Brexit, including its bilateral and trilateral trade impact on e.g. EU-UK, EU-Japan, UK-Japan and EU-UK-Japan trade.

Planned Impact

The benefits of this research will be in academia (scholars in the field of international economic law around the world) who will benefit from access to the publications which will be produced by this research. This will assist in developing new areas for research and will illuminate existing debates. Outside of academia the beneficiaries will be the governments of the UK and of Japan, in particular the departments of international trade in both countries. They will benefit by having a more well-informed strategy in terms of international economic agreement negotiations as a result of the publications produced by this research and the shorter summaries of this research in blogs and in newspapers. The World Trade Organization should benefit from the policy advice which will be engendered by the research regarding potential reforms to the world trading system. The results will be formulated into responses to requests for contributions to White Papers for the UK government and the Japanese equivalent. Policy organizations which inform governments and the private sector will also benefit from this work. This includes organizations in the UK such as Politeia, the Institute for Economic Affairs, and the Trade Policy Observatory and the European Centre for International Political Economy in Brussels and Asser Institute in the Hague. Equivalent organizations in Japan will also benefit, with the business foundation Keidanren as a prominent example. These groups will benefit from the research by identifying areas for further research which they can conduct on their own and by using our outputs to craft the results into discrete policy advice for governmental bodies, as per their own agendas. In order to insure that these benefits are fully available, the outputs from this research will be disseminated as widely as possible through free access online and through summaries in blogs and newspapers and social media. This will maximize the reach of the work to a larger, non-expert audience. The planned conferences, while primarily aimed at academics, will also be open to policy specialists and journalists.

Our research will be directed at positive law reform, with such changes pushing towards an intensification of trade between UK, EU and Japan. By preparing a high-quality, evidence-based report and an academic publication, and disseminating these publications (e.g. press release, social media, trade blogs, etc.), our aim will be to influence legislative action and policy behaviour at a national and regional level, with the overall intention to effect a positive impact on trade. Our plan to invite the key stakeholders/beneficiaries to the events, coupled with our dissemination strategy, will increase the likelihood of achieving impact.

Dissemination of the identified proposals/recommendations will be crucial to maximise impact. The press-release and the conference report (both outlining policy recommendations for reform) will be widely disseminated online and will be publicised by City, University of London via its press office, and by Keio University via its media office. The authors will ensure that the policy recommendation will be channelled towards associations and organisations representing patent, trademark and copyright owners as well as trade bodies in EU, UK and Japan; blogs and websites interested in International Economic law, EU, IP and trade will also be targeted, with the academic paper (which will highlight the differences between the enforcement systems and academic recommendations for reform) being published in an open-access format in leading peer-reviewed journals such as the International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law (IIC) and European Law Journal. Such dissemination will be capable of influencing legislative action and policy behaviour at a national and regional level, with the overall intention to effect a positive impact on trade.


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