International Law


Divided Infringement: Expanding the Extraterritorial Scope of Patent Law

Melissa Feeney Wasserman

Generally, in order to infringe a U.S. patent, the entire patented invention must be practiced within the United States. However, as technology evolves it is becoming harder to contain inventions within national borders. Specifically, the advancement of networking and communications technologies allows for the rapid, cost-efficient dissemination of information across countries’ borders. As a result, the number of inventions that are being practiced in multiple jurisdictions, or the practicing of divided infringement, is on the rise. Potential infringers that commit divided infringement are practicing patented inventions, escaping liability in all jurisdictions, but still reaping the rewards of the American market. Consequently, potential infringers who commit divided infringement are undercutting the incentive to innovate, the primary purpose of the patent system. To solve the problem of divided infringement, this Note proposes expanding the extraterritorial scope of U.S. patent law by adopting a substantial effects test, limited by comity concerns.

Providing Effective Remedies to Victims of Abuse by Peacekeeping Personnel

Catherine E. Sweetser

This Note argues for a compensation mechanism in cases where United Nations peacekeepers have violated the rights of those whom they should be protecting, focusing in particular on cases of sexual abuse. In light of the current absence of clear mechanisms for accountability, the United Nations must take action to compensate victims in order to preserve its organizational immunity and its discretion in waiving the immunity of peacekeepers. This Note examines the current legal regime and current responses by the United Nations, reviews the pressing need for greater victim compensation, and evaluates theories of employer liability and state responsibility as they apply in the peacekeeping context. It concludes that current international law supports a compensation mechanism that is normatively (if not legally) required.

Rethinking “Effective Remedies”: Remedial Deterrence in International Courts

Sonja B. Starr

One of the bedrock principles of contemporary international law is that victims of human rights violations have a right to an “effective remedy.” International courts usually hold that effective remedies must at least make the victim whole, and they sometimes adopt even stronger remedial rules for particular categories of human rights violations. Moreover, courts have refused to permit departure from these rules on the basis of competing social interests. Human rights scholars have not questioned this approach, frequently pushing for even stronger judicial remedies for rights violations. Yet in many cases, strong and inflexible remedial rules can perversely undermine human rights enforcement. Institutional constraints often make it impractical or highly costly for international courts to issue remedies for the violations they recognize. Inflexible remedial rules raise the collateral costs of providing remedies and often drive courts to circumvent those costs by narrowing their substantive interpretations of rights, raising the prejudice threshold required to trigger a remedy or erecting procedural hurdles that allow them to avoid considering the claim at all. This Article illustrates these “remedial deterrence” effects primarily with examples from the procedural rights case law of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and for the former Yugoslavia—two courts that face particularly stark remedial costs. It then argues that similar dynamics are likely at other international courts, though their degree, form, and consequences will vary based on each court’s particular objectives and constraints.

Although some degree of remedial deterrence is inevitable and legitimate, extreme remedial-cost pressures—like those often present in international criminal proceedings—result in severe doctrinal distortions that subvert the purpose of international courts’ strong remedial rules. Because victims cannot be granted lesser remedies, they often receive no remedy at all. This overkill effect is magnified because the doctrinal distortions spill over to other cases lacking similar remedial costs and to domestic courts and other actors that follow international judicial precedent, even though they do not share the same institutional constraints. To mitigate these consequences, this Article makes two sets of recommendations. First, international courts’ structures and procedures should be designed to avoid excessive remedial deterrence pressures. This Article offers specific proposals for international criminal tribunals. Second, international courts should modify their approach to the effective remedy requirement, allowing some degree of equitable balancing of interests. Such an approach would promote judicial candor and enable courts to avoid untenable remedial costs without unduly distorting other doctrines.

Reining in Non-State Actors: State Responsibility and Attribution in Cases of Genocide

Berglind Halldórsdóttir Birkland

In 2007, the International Court of Justice defined the scope of state responsibility under the Genocide Convention for the very first time when it reached the merits in the Genocide Case, a case arising from the violent breakup of the former Yugoslavia. The opinion immediately spurred extensive academic commentary, much of which was critical of the Court’s ultimate holding that Serbia had not committed genocide despite its well-documented role in the Srebrenica massacre. While the Genocide Case can be read as a disappointment, and the Court’s analysis is vulnerable to normative critique, this Note argues that it was nonetheless an important victory in the movement toward greater state accountability for genocide, especially considering the context in which the Court acts and the limitations imposed on its independence by the practical need for legitimacy. Although the Court raised onerous evidentiary hurdles for establishing state responsibility for the direct commission of genocide, it managed simultaneously to impose upon states a clear duty to rein in non-state actors over whom they exercise influence by interpreting the state obligation to prevent genocide broadly. This broad duty to rein in non-state actors has important implications not only for the Court’s own jurisprudence but also extrajudiciously within the customary framework of state responsibility, by empowering the general international community to enforce states’ obligations to curb genocidal actors within their reach.

Tax Expenditures and Global Labor Mobility

Ruth Mason

Governments often deliver social welfare benefits through “tax expenditures,” which are provisions of the tax code (such as home mortgage deductions) designed to serve social policy objectives. This Article considers the criteria for granting tax expenditures to individuals who work outside the state where they reside. International tax norms currently assign the primary entitlement to tax labor income to the state where the taxpayer works, but they assign the obligation to confer personal tax expenditures exclusively to the state where the taxpayer resides. This Article argues that the disjunction between the entitlement to tax and the obligation to provide tax benefits affects cross-border labor mobility and has important distributive implica- tions for taxpayers and states. In constructing these arguments, this Article introduces the concepts of “labor export neutrality” and “labor residence neutrality” as tools for analyzing government policies that affect global labor mobility. A policy is labor export neutral if it does not distort taxpayers’ decisions about where to work. A policy is labor residence neutral if it does not distort taxpayers’ decisions about where to reside.

Myth of Mess? International Choice of Law in Action

Christopher A. Whytock

Choice of law is a mess—or so it is said. According to conventional wisdom, choice-of-law doctrine does not significantly influence judges’ choice-of-law decisions. Instead, these decisions are primarily motivated by biases in favor of domestic over foreign law, domestic over foreign litigants, and plaintiffs over defendants. They are also highly unpredictable.

This Article argues that these “mess” claims do not accurately describe at least one domain of choice of law—international choice of law—and it demonstrates what is at stake in this debate for global governance. Part I provides a brief overview of choice-of-law doctrine in the United States. Part II documents the mess claims. Part III then shows how the mess claims, if correct, would be bad news for global governance. Choice-of-law doctrine can increase or decrease global economic welfare, enhance or undermine transnational rule of law, and facilitate or hinder transnational bargaining. The extent of these effects, and whether they are beneficial or harmful, depends largely on the degree to which choice-of-law doctrine actually influences judges’ international choice-of-law decisions and the extent to which those decisions are biased and unpredictable. The mess claims thus imply that if choice of law has any systematic effects on global governance they are likely to be harmful.

Part IV uses statistical analysis of an original dataset of published international choice-of-law decisions by U.S. district courts in tort cases to present evidence that choice-of-law doctrine indeed influences these decisions; that these decisions are not biased in favor of domestic law, domestic litigants, or plaintiffs; and that they are actually quite predictable. The mess claims, it turns out, may be myths—at least in transnational tort cases.

Part V explores the broader implications of my analysis. In particular, it explains why these findings are encouraging from a global-governance perspective and why they might plausibly extend to unpublished international choice-of-law decisions and domestic choice-of-law decisions. Overall, the Article’s findings suggest that the conventional wisdom exaggerates what is wrong with choice of law and implicitly underestimates its contributions to global governance.

New Dirty War Judgments in Argentina: National Courts and Domestic Prosecutions of International Human Rights Violations

Margarita K. O’Donnell

A new approach to national interpretations of international law suggests that, to be successful, national courts must engage in flexible, culturally conscious translations of international norms. Transitional justice projects, however, pose a challenge to this approach. This Note proposes that when criminal prosecutions function as truth-seeking processes, the ability of domestic groups to influence how national courts interpret international law is heightened. In these instances, nonstate actors understandably attempt to capitalize on courts’ awareness of the critical role legal judgments play in engendering national reconciliation in order to secure favorable legal outcomes. Accordingly, courts have the challenge of adjudicating egregious human rights violations while also complying with the strict limitations of international criminal law. This Note suggests that the exigencies of transitional justice may lead national courts to issue interpretations that deviate from the existing body of international law. It examines this thesis through the lens of recent criminal prosecutions in Argentina for massive human rights violations during the Dirty War, in which a federal court greatly expanded the legal definition of genocide, contradicting long-standing international jurisprudence.

GI Joe? Coffee, Location, and Regulatory Accountability

Webster D. McBride

Geographical Indications (GIs)—product labels indicating places of origin when the quality of products are linked to their geographic origin—have long been a hotly-contested domain of international trade among nations in the developed West. Recently, a literature has emerged evaluating the prospects for developing countries’ use of GIs to bolster their agricultural sectors, but the empirical economics of GIs remain poorly understood. This Note approaches the issue from a different angle. The rhetoric that attends discussion of the economics of developing-nation GI implementations often makes reference to nonpecuniary, “softer” benefits of the GI phenomenon—in particular, its pro-local counterbalance to the multinational forces commonly perceived to dominate the global marketplace. This Note seeks to scrutinize this aspect of GIs’ impact on developing-world producers by assessing the political, institutional, and cultural dynamics that the international GI regime fosters. To ground my inquiry in an analytic framework, this Note employs metrics derived from the Global Administrative Law (GAL) project spearheaded by Benedict Kingsbury and Richard Stewart. Specifically, this Note asks whether the institutional dynamics that GI protection fosters among developing-world coffee farmers have the effect of promoting or obstructing regulatory accountability as measured by GAL’s three main principles: participation, transparency, and review. In theory, the implementation of a GI product specification should empower developing-world coffee producers by fostering their regulatory involvement and civic organization, facilitating collective management of their joint reputation, and offering access to mechanisms by which they might hold opportunistic actors accountable. This Note concludes, however, that the practical realities are unencouraging because states without preexisting and well-developed institutional infrastructures have difficulty corralling powerful actors seeking to exploit GIs for private benefit.

Are Tradable Carbon Emissions Credits Investments? Characterization and Ramifications Under International Investment Law

Lisa Bennett

Implementation of carbon emissions trading schemes such as the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme requires consideration of how to properly characterize the newly-created emissions credits under various domestic and international law frameworks. Notably absent from the literature on emissions trading is an analysis of whether emissions credits can be characterized as investments, thereby implicating international investment law protections against expropriation and discrimination and giving rise to guarantees of fair and equitable treatment. This Note analyzes the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes’s objective definition of “investment” as well as treaty-specific definitions of “investment” and concludes that carbon credits are properly considered investments. Next, the Note considers the types of investor claims that could be brought against host states if carbon credits are treated as investments. Because of the potential costs to host states in defending against such claims, states’ willingness to adopt carbon trading schemes may be chilled. This risk of regulatory chill, coupled with the global importance of national measures to combat climate change, counsels in favor of limiting the scope of rights afforded to investors. This Note therefore concludes by setting out a range of proposals for enacting such limits.

The Law of Neutrality and the Conflict with Al Qaeda

Tess Bridgeman

Many aspects of the United States’s armed conflict with al Qaeda and associated forces have been intensely debated by legal scholars and policymakers, yet one important question has thus far been almost completely ignored: Where, if at all, does the law of neutrality fit into the legal framework governing the conduct of this armed conflict? I argue that neutrality is one of several principles that ensure the completeness of the modern law of armed conflict (LOAC) framework. Neutrality is particularly important in achieving geographic completeness of the legal regime. The 1949 Geneva Conventions (GCs) that form the bedrock of our LOAC framework were written against the background understanding that neutrality would operate wherever GC protections did not apply. In sharp contrast to most wars, the geographic distinction between belligerent and neutral territory is highly unstable in the conflict with al Qaeda. Ironically, at the point in modern warfare when the law of neutrality may be most important, it is being ignored.

The Obama administration has begun to apply analogous provisions of the LOAC rules developed in inter-state wars to its current conflicts—a recognition that this conflict, like all others, should be waged according to a complete legal regime. To date, however, the United States has not recognized the role of neutrality in its conflict
with al Qaeda. This Note begins to fill that gap. While arguing that the law of neutrality is more important in this conflict than many others due to the conflict’s global nature, this Note concludes that recognizing neutrality will only be a partial solution. Neutrality instructs, however, that the LOAC rules themselves may be applicable almost globally because of the asymmetrical nature of the conflict. I argue that the central purpose of recognizing neutrality in our current conflicts is to avoid selectively applying parts of a comprehensive legal system, thereby leaving legal black holes in which some individuals have no protection. What matters most is that the intended fundamental feature of the LOAC regime—its completeness—is not abandoned each time a new form of conflict is recognized.