Sociology Index

Patent Law Treaties

Multilateral and bilateral trade agreements have helped standardize intellectual property rights laws globally. Patents law are available for any invention, provided they are new, involve an inventive step and are capable of industrial application, in accordance with the requirements prescribed in Patent Law Treaty. Via international patent law treaties, the worldwide patent movement has already installed an unflexible system, where patents of 20 years runtime have to be granted for "any invention in any field of technology." A world Patent System is bad news for developing countries and their citizens, who would lose even the limited freedom left by the WTO's TRIPS Agreement to adjust patent systems to national development goals. The Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties Convention, adopted in 1961 and revised in 1972, 1978, and 1991, has established international standards for Plant Variety Law.

Substantive Patent Law Treaty removes most of the remaining national flexibility in patent systems and pave the way for a future world patent granted directly by WIPO, an appealing prospect for transnational corporations and large powers like the US and the EU, for whom patents are the primary means to control a globalised economy.

In December 2012, Congress passed the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012 to implement the provisions of the Patent Law Treaty. The provisions focused on harmonizing and streamlining many of the formal procedures for filing and processing a patent application.

The Paris Convention of 1883 ensures that foreign inventors from signatory countries are treated as nationals. The Patent Cooperation Treaty of 1970 provides a common patent application clearinghouse for inventors wishing to file for patents in multiple countries.

The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property of the WTO, adopted in 1994 and entered into force in 1995, stipulates minimum IP standards for members of the WTO.