Sociology Index

Agreement on TRIPS

Created to set down minimum standards for intellectual property (IP) regulation. Agreement on TRIPS lays down the requirements that nations' laws must meet for: copyright rights, including the rights of performers, producers of sound recordings and broadcasting organizations; geographical indications, including appellations of origin; industrial designs; integrated circuit layout-designs; patents; monopolies for the developers of new plant varieties; trademarks; trade dress; and undisclosed or confidential information. TRIPS also has a most favoured nation clause.

TRIPS also administers and stipulates enforcement procedures, remedies, and dispute resolution procedures. The Doha Declaration clarifies the scope of TRIPS; stating for example that TRIPS can and should be interpreted in light of the goal "to promote access to medicines for all." Unilateral economic encouragement under the Generalized System of Preferences and coercion under Section 301 of the Trade Act played an important role in defeating competing policy positions that were favoured by developing countries.

After the Uruguay round, the GATT became the basis for the establishment of the World Trade Organization. Because ratification of TRIPS is a compulsory requirement of World Trade Organization membership,

Countries seeking to obtain easy access to international markets opened by the World Trade Organization must enact the strict intellectual property laws mandated by TRIPS.

TRIPS has a powerful enforcement mechanism to discipline members through the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism.

The requirements under TRIPS

Copyright terms must extend to 50 years after the death of the author, although films and photographs are only required to have fixed 50 and to be at least 25 year terms, respectively.(Art.7(2),(4))

Copyright must be granted automatically, and not based upon any "formality", such as registrations or systems of renewal.

Computer programs must be regarded as "literary works" under copyright law and receive the same terms of protection.

A 2005 report by the WHO found that many developing countries have not incorporated TRIPS flexibilities (compulsory licensing, parallel importation, limits on data protection, use of broad research and other exceptions to patentability, etc) into their legislation to the extent authorized under Doha.