International Geneva award for Prof. de Rassenfosse

© 2019 EPFL

© 2019 EPFL

Prof. de Rassenfosse has received the International Geneva (IG) Award by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) for his paper entitled “Are foreigners equally treated under TRIPS?”. The IG Award was established to encourage outstanding research scientists to produce publications that are particularly relevant for International Organizations. 

The paper discusses the enforcement of the national treatment principle (NTP) as it applies to foreign inventors in the international patent system. It uses a large dataset and econometric models to document the existence of a systematic bias against foreign firms in patent examination decisions, suggesting violation of the NTP. The paper is forthcoming in the Journal of Law & Economics, the most respected journal in the field. The NTP is part of the Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which is a legal agreement between all the member nations of the World Trade Organization. The NTP is of prime importance in today’s globalized knowledge economy: its intention is to minimize international free-riding on research and development (R&D) activities so that nations pay dues for the use of knowledge created and developed by residents of other countries–thereby encouraging the creation of innovation at a global scale. Yet, as important as they are, the impact of trade agreements will be limited if they are not appropriately monitored and enforced. Given TRIPS’s influence in shaping the increasingly-global innovation value chain, the enforcement of the NTP has particular relevance. Failure to enforce it will weaken R&D investment incentives and inhibit international trade flows. The International Geneva prize by the SNIS is a recognition of the importance of this issue and puts the spotlight on a dysfunction of the international patent system.


de Rassenfosse, Gaétan and Jensen, Paul H. and Julius, T'Mir and Palangkaraya, Alfons and Webster, Elizabeth M., Are Foreigners Treated Equally Under TRIPS? (August 2019). Available at SSRN: or