The Record: This Week in Review

SCOTUS’ first sale doctrine ruling and its impact on foreign relations

Last week the United States Supreme Court held in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. that The “first sale” doctrine, which allows the owner of a copyrighted work to sell or otherwise dispose of that copy as he wishes, applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad. Supap Kirtsaeng, a Thai national, and U.S. student, arranged for family and friends to buy Wiley’s far reduced, differentially priced textbooks in Thailand and ship them to him in the US, where he resold them for a profit. The Supreme Court upheld Kirtsaeng’s right to sell over Wiley’s desire to limit exportation without its authorization. Commentators have since occupied themselves with unpacked the ruling’s ramifications for foreign trade, extraterritoriality, and TRIPS.

The 20th Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot

The 20th Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, one of the most prestigious international moot court competitions for law students in the world, is taking place this week in Vienna, Austria. Aside from various law firms and universities, pre-moot hosts have included the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution, The New York City Bar Association, the Brazilian Bar Association, The Chinese European Arbitration Centre, The Florida Bar International Law Section, and the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Best wishes to our Berkeley team who is competing in Vienna this week, including lead blog editor Brittney Lovato and Amy Belsher, Holly Hoch, and Aditi Fruitwala.

Technology and Economic Development

Last week, WIPO reported a showing that international filings for patents, trademarks, and industrial designs under WIPO-administered intellectual property systems continuing to grow in 2012, which they find correlated with development. The World Bank held a “Big Data Exploration” in D.C., aiming to improve their use of technology, big data, and data collaboration to evaluate poverty measurement and anti-corruption projects. The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network presented in Berlin called for tapping into “worldwide technological know-how in the private sector and civil society, in order to develop and implement practical solutions,” which “[c]ompanies contribute through innovative business models, technologies and services to the long-term success of sustainable development.” This week, UNCTAD, The Nambian Ports Authority, and Port of Cork, Ireland facilitated a course on “Technical Management and Human Resources Development” to improve infrastructure maintenance, purchasing tasks, and human resource development policies and needs analyses.

Calling for the Release of Five Jordanian Students Who Were Detained Based on Accusations of “Devil Worship”

On March 26, 2013, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) released an article calling for the release of five Al al-Bayt university students in Jordan who have been detained since March 12, 2013. The students were viciously attacked by a student mob based on disputed allegations that the accused students engaged in “devil worship” and desecrated manuscripts of the Quran by flushing them down the toilet. The accused students deny all allegations, and the Jordanian authorities have not brought formal charges. Moreover, a newspaper report indicated that a special investigative unit found no evidence that supports the allegations. The HRW pointed out that Jordan is bound by international law to protect individuals who express their beliefs through peaceful means and prevent arbitrary detention. Additionally, the HRW called on Jordanian authorities to investigate and prosecute the attackers who injured the accused students.

Tensions in Xinjiang, China Continue as 20 Accused of Separatism are Sentenced

The New York Times reported that 20 accused of religious extremism and separatist activity in the Chinese province of Xinjiang faced sentences ranging from five years to life in prison. While the Chinese language report did not mention the ethnic background of the accused, the article claimed that their distinctive names strongly indicated that they were part of the Uighur minority, which is a Muslim ethnic group. Tensions in the Xinjiang region previously led to riots in 2009 after members of the Uighur community suffered attacks and arrest after their protest killed nearly 200 Han Chinese. Representatives of the Human Rights Watch questioned the sentences issued for the accused because the Chinese government frequently makes accusations of terrorist activity and separatist movements to “discredit legitimate Uighur grievances.”

UN Conference Ends Without Agreement on Arms Trade Treaty

The 193 UN Member States failed to reach an agreement at the Final United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which ended on March 28, 2013. The proposed treaty would have established common standards, facilitating better regulation on the international conventional arms trade. Secretary-General Ban is hopeful that the Member States will continue to work towards a more unified regulation of conventional arms.

Obama Nominates General Breedlove for NATO Supreme Allied Commander

Obama announced Air Force General Philip Breedlove as his nomination for NATO Supreme Allied Commander. General Breedlove has served on assignments in Germany, Italy, Spain and South Korea, and, according to President Obama, “has established ‘trust and deep relations’ with NATO allies.” The North Atlantic Council has approved of the nomination, so Breedlove’s appointment will become official once it is confirmed by the Senate.