The international framework of public domain: The trends arising from the WIPO Development Agenda

Blasi, M. | Joly-Robert, M.
February 2012


This research paper will focus on the discussion and recommendations regarding the public domain set forth in the WIPO Development Agenda. Starting by the definition of public domain and its justification, we will analyze the international framework before and after the WIPO Development Agenda. Finally, we will discuss some proposals at national level for the enactment of provisions on this issue.


Besides being an essential concept for the comprehension and delimitation of intellectual property rights (IPRs) in general, the public domain only started to be discussed as a positive reality claiming for an autonomous and proper legal framework in the last thirty years. In parallel, besides existing since 1967 and being an UN specialized agency since 1974, it was only after the advent of the WIPO Development Agenda (2004-2007) that the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), under an effective pressure of the developing countries, clearly started to redefine its goals in order to supersede its genetic task of protecting IPRs as an end in itself and drive its activities and discussions towards development-oriented results.

The understanding of these two recent and fascinating movements as well as their intersection are the conducting line of this paper, which aims to analyze the embedded tensions involved therein and identify some trends emerging from the discussions about public domain in the WIPO Development Agenda.