The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an international agreement administered by the World Trade Organization that sets down minimum standards for many forms of intellectual property regulation as applied to nationals of other WTO Members.
The TRIPS agreement introduced intellectual property law into the international trading system for the first time and remains the most comprehensive international agreement on intellectual property to date.
Origin of TRIPS Agreement
TRIPS was negotiated at the end of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1994. Its inclusion was the culmination of a program of intense lobbying by the United States, supported by the European Union, Japan and other developed nations.
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, any country seeking to obtain easy access to the numerous international markets opened by the World Trade Organization must enact the strict intellectual property laws mandated by TRIPS.
For this reason, TRIPS is the most important multilateral instrument for the globalization of intellectual property laws. States like Russia and China that were very unlikely to join the Berne Convention have found the prospect of WTO membership a powerful enticement.
Furthermore, unlike other agreements on intellectual property, TRIPS has a powerful enforcement mechanism. States can be disciplined through the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism.
Need for TRIPS
Ideas and knowledge are an increasingly important part of trade. Most of the value of new medicines and other high technology products lies in the amount of invention, innovation, research, design and testing involved. Creators can be given the right to prevent others from using their inventions, designs or other creations — and to use that right to negotiate payment in return for others using them. For example books, paintings and films come under copyright; inventions can be patented; brand names and product logos can be registered as trademarks.
Earlier the extent of protection and enforcement of the Intellectual Property rights varied widely around the world; and as intellectual property became more important in trade, these differences became a source of tension in international economic relations. New internationally-agreed trade rules for intellectual property rights were seen as a way to introduce more order and predictability, and for disputes to be settled.
The WTO’s TRIPS Agreement is an attempt to narrow the gaps in the way these rights are protected around the world, and to bring them under common international rules.
The TRIPS Agreement is aimed at harmonizing the Intellectual Property, related laws and regulations worldwide. The TRIPS Agreement accomplishes this motive by setting minimum standards for protection of various forms of IP. The nations that are signatory to the TRIPS Agreement have to abide by these minimum standards in their national laws related to IP.