Investment Protection in Bilateral and Free Trade Agreements: Implications for the Granting of Compulsory Licenses

Can the exercise of any of the key provisions in investment agreements lead to rights and practices that deviate from the terms of the TRIPS Agreement? This issue is specifically explored in relation to compulsory licenses, one of the “safeguards” contemplated in the TRIPS Agreement that developing countries have actively tried to preserve in order to mitigate the powers conferred to patent owners. Despite this attention and interest, no single compulsory license has been granted in a developing country after the adoption of the TRIPS Agreement. This article explores the extent to which investment protection may add another barrier for such a use and how to deal with this problem.