Investment Policy Brief 13, December 2018

IP Licence, Trademarks and ISDS: Bridgestone v. Panama

Can an intellectual property right or a license authorizing its use be deemed an ‘investment’ under bilateral investment treaties? This policy brief discusses the arguments submitted by the parties in the Bridgestone Licensing Services, Inc. and  Bridgestone Americas, Inc. v. Republic of Panama case on questions regarding a trademark license agreement. Bridgestone Licensing Services, Inc. (BSLS) and Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM) together initiated arbitration proceedings on the grounds that Panama’s Supreme Court decision was unjust and arbitrary, violated Panama’s obligations under the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA),  expropriated their investments, and violated the requirement of fair and equitable treatment (FET) to BSLS’s and BSAM’s investments.

Un droit de propriété intellectuelle ou une licence autorisant son utilisation peuvent-ils être considérés comme des investissements en vertu des accords bilatéraux d’investissement ?  Le présent rapport examine les arguments invoqués par les parties adverses dans l’affaire opposant Bridgestone Licensing Services, Inc. et  Bridgestone Americas, Inc. à la République du Panama au sujet d’un contrat de licence de marque.   Bridgestone Licensing Services, Inc. (BSLS) et Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM) ont entamé une procédure conjointe d’arbitrage au motif que la décision de la Cour suprême panaméenne est injuste et arbitraire, qu’elle est contraire aux obligations qui incombent au Panama au titre de l’Accord de libre-échange entre les États-Unis et le Panama, qu’elle a pour effet d’exproprier leurs investissements et qu’elle porte atteinte au principe de traitement juste et équitable des investissements de BSLS et de BSAM. 

¿Puede un derecho de propiedad intelectual o una licencia que autorice su uso considerarse una inversión en virtud de los tratados bilaterales de inversión (TBI)? En este informe sobre políticas se analizan los argumentos presentados por las partes en el caso Bridgestone Licensing Services, Inc. y Bridgestone Americas, Inc. contra la República de Panamá sobre cuestiones relativas a un acuerdo de licencia de marca. Bridgestone Licensing Services, Inc. (BSLS) y Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM) iniciaron juntas procedimientos de arbitraje alegando que la decisión de la Corte Suprema de Panamá es injusta y arbitraria, que viola las obligaciones de Panamá en virtud del Tratado de Promoción Comercial (TPC) entre Panamá y los Estados Unidos de América, expropia sus inversiones y viola el principio de trato justo y equitativo para las inversiones de BSLS y BSAM.

This brief is part of the South Centre’s policy brief series focusing on international investment agreements and experiences of developing countries.

While the reform process of international investment protection treaties is evolving, it is still at a nascent stage. Systemic reforms that would safeguard the sovereign right to regulate and balance the rights and responsibilities of investors would require more concerted efforts on behalf of home and host states of investment in terms of reforming treaties and rethinking the system of dispute settlement.

Experiences of developing countries reveal that without such systemic reforms, developing countries’ ability to use foreign direct investment for industrialization and development will be impaired.

The policy brief series is intended as a tool to assist in further dialogue on needed reforms.

*** The views contained in this brief are attributable to the author/s and do not represent the institutional views of the South Centre or its Member States.

Download the investment policy brief below :

IP Licence, Trademarks and ISDS: Bridgestone v. Panama


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