TRIPS Agreement

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TRIPS Agreement
Annex 1C to the Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization
Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
World Trade Organization Members.svg
  WTO members (where the TRIPS agreement applies)
  Parties to the Agreement where also the membership of the European Union applies
Type Annex to the Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization
Effective 1 January 1996
Parties 158 (All WTO members)[1]
Languages English, French and Spanish
Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights at Wikisource

The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an international agreement administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that sets down minimum standards for many forms of intellectual property (IP) regulation as applied to nationals of other WTO Members.[2] It was negotiated at the end of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1994.

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. In 2001, developing countries, concerned that developed countries were insisting on an overly narrow reading of TRIPS, initiated a round of talks that resulted in the Doha Declaration. The Doha declaration is a WTO statement that 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."

Specifically, TRIPS requires WTO members to provide copyright rights, covering content producers including performers, producers of sound recordings and broadcasting organizations; geographical indications, including appellations of origin; industrial designs; integrated circuit layout-designs; patents; new plant varieties; trademarks; trade dress; and undisclosed or confidential information. TRIPS also specifies enforcement procedures, remedies, and dispute resolution procedures. Protection and enforcement of all intellectual property rights shall meet the objectives to contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations.

Background and history[edit]

TRIPS was negotiated at the end of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 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. Campaigns of 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 favored by developing countries, most notably Korea and Brazil, but also including Thailand, India and Caribbean Basin states. In turn, the United States strategy of linking trade policy to intellectual property standards can be traced back to the entrepreneurship of senior management at Pfizer in the early 1980s, who mobilized corporations in the United States and made maximizing intellectual property privileges the number one priority of trade policy in the United States (Braithwaite and Drahos, 2000, Chapter 7).

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 [3] 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.

The requirements of TRIPS[edit]

TRIPS requires member states to provide strong protection for intellectual property rights. For example, under TRIPS:

  • Copyright terms must extend at least 20 years, unless based on the life of the author. (Art. 12 and 14)[4][not in citation given]
  • Copyright must be granted automatically, and not based upon any "formality," such as registrations, as specified in the Berne Convention. (Art. 9)
  • Computer programs must be regarded as "literary works" under copyright law and receive the same terms of protection.
  • National exceptions to copyright (such as "fair use" in the United States) are constrained by the Berne three-step test
  • Patents must be granted for "inventions" in all "fields of technology" provided they meet all other patentability requirements (although exceptions for certain public interests are allowed (Art. 27.2 and 27.3)[5] and must be enforceable for at least 20 years (Art 33).
  • Exceptions to exclusive rights must be limited, provided that a normal exploitation of the work (Art. 13) and normal exploitation of the patent (Art 30) is not in conflict.
  • No unreasonable prejudice to the legitimate interests of the right holders of computer programs and patents is allowed.
  • Legitimate interests of third parties have to be taken into account by patent rights (Art 30).
  • In each state, intellectual property laws may not offer any benefits to local citizens which are not available to citizens of other TRIPS signatories under the principle of national treatment (with certain limited exceptions, Art. 3 and 5).[6] TRIPS also has a most favored nation clause.

Many of the TRIPS provisions on copyright were copied from the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and many of its trademark and patent provisions were modeled on the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.

Access to essential medicines[edit]

The most visible conflict has been over AIDS drugs in Africa. Despite the role that patents have played in maintaining higher drug costs for public health programs across Africa, this controversy has not led to a revision of TRIPs. Instead, an interpretive statement, the Doha Declaration, was issued in November 2001, which indicated that TRIPs should not prevent states from dealing with public health crises. After Doha, PhRMA, the United States and to a lesser extent other developed nations began working to minimize the effect of the declaration.[7]

A 2003 agreement loosened the domestic market requirement, and allows developing countries to export to other countries where there is a national health problem as long as drugs exported are not part of a commercial or industrial policy.[8] Drugs exported under such a regime may be packaged or colored differently in order to prevent them from prejudicing markets in the developed world.

In 2003, the Bush administration also changed its position, concluding that generic treatments might in fact be a component of an effective strategy to combat HIV. Bush created the PEPFAR program, which received $15 billion from 2003–2007, and was reauthorized in 2008 for $48 billion over the next five years. Despite wavering on the issue of compulsory licensing, PEPFAR began to distribute generic drugs in 2004-5.

Software and business method patents[edit]

Another controversy has been over the TRIPS Article 27 requirements for patentability "in all fields of technology", and whether or not this necessitates the granting of software and business method patents.

Implementation in developing countries[edit]

The obligations under TRIPS apply equally to all member states, however developing countries were allowed extra time to implement the applicable changes to their national laws, in two tiers of transition according to their level of development. The transition period for developing countries expired in 2005. The transition period for least developed countries to implement TRIPS was extended to 2013, and until 1 January 2016 for pharmaceutical patents, with the possibility of further extension.[9]

It has therefore been argued that the TRIPS standard of requiring all countries to create strict intellectual property systems will be detrimental to poorer countries' development.[10] Many argue[who?] that it is, prima facie, in the strategic interest of most if not all underdeveloped nations to use any flexibility available in TRIPS to legislate the weakest IP laws possible.[who?]

This has not happened in most cases. 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.[11]

This is likely caused by the lack of legal and technical expertise needed to draft legislation that implements flexibilities, which has often led to developing countries directly copying developed country IP legislation,[12] or relying on technical assistance from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which, according to critics such as Cory Doctorow, encourages them to implement stronger intellectual property monopolies.

Banerjee and Nayak[13] shows that TRIPS has a positive effect on R&D expenditure of Indian pharmaceutical firms.

Post-TRIPS expansion[edit]

In addition to the baseline intellectual property standards created by the TRIPS agreement, many nations have engaged in bilateral agreements to adopt a higher standard of protection. These collection of standards, known as TRIPS+ or TRIPS-Plus, can take many forms.[14] General objectives of these agreements include:

Panel reports[edit]

According to WTO 10th Anniversary, Highlights of the first decade, Annual Report 2005 page 142,[15] in the first ten years, 25 complaints have been lodged leading to the panel reports and appellate body reports on TRIPS listed below.

The WTO website has a gateway to all TRIPS disputes (including those that did not lead to panel reports) here [1].

Criticism[edit]

Since TRIPS came into force it has received a growing level of criticism from developing countries, academics, and non-governmental organizations. Some of this criticism is against the WTO as a whole, but many advocates of trade liberalization also regard TRIPS as bad policy. TRIPS's wealth concentration effects (moving money from people in developing countries to copyright and patent owners in developed countries) and its imposition of artificial scarcity on the citizens of countries that would otherwise have had weaker intellectual property laws, are common bases for such criticisms.

Peter Drahos writes that "It was an accepted part of international commercial morality that states would design domestic intellectual property law to suit their own economic circumstances. States made sure that existing international intellectual property agreements gave them plenty of latitude to do so."[27]

Daniele Archibugi and Andrea Filippetti[28] argue that the importance of TRIPS in the process of generation and diffusion of knowledge and innovation has been overestimated by both their supporters and their detractors. Claude Henry and Joseph E. Stiglitz[29] argue that the current intellectual property global regime may impede both innovation and dissemination, and suggest reforms to foster the global dissemination of innovation and sustainable development.

See also[edit]

Related treaties and laws[edit]

Related organizations[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "WTO TRIPS implementation". International Intellectual Property Alliance. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  2. ^ See TRIPS Art. 1(3).
  3. ^ Farah, Paolo Davide & Cima, Elena (2010) '[http://ssrn.com/abstract=1527992 SSRN.com China’s Participation in the World Trade Organization: Trade in Goods, Services, Intellectual Property Rights and Transparency Issues" in Aurelio Lopez-Tarruella Martinez (ed.), El comercio con China. Oportunidades empresariales, incertidumbres jurídicas, Tirant lo Blanch, Valencia (Spain) 2010, pp. 85–121. ISBN 978-84-8456-981-7.
  4. ^ "intellectual property (TRIPS) - agreement text - standards". WTO. 1994-04-15. Retrieved 2012-04-16. 
  5. ^ World Trade Organization, "Part II — Standards concerning the availability, scope and use of Intellectual Property Rights; Sections 5 and 6", Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights 
  6. ^ World Trade Organization, "Part I — General Provisions and Basic Principles", Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights 
  7. ^ cf. Timmermann, Cristian, and Henk van den Belt. 2013. Intellectual property and global health: from corporate social responsibility to the access to knowledge movement. Liverpool Law Review 34 (1):47-73. also available at http://edepot.wur.nl/252885
  8. ^ World Trade Organization (1 September 2003), Implementation of paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and public health 
  9. ^ World Trade Organisation, IP - http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/tripfq_e.htm
  10. ^ IP Justice policy paper for the WIPO development agenda, IP Justice 
  11. ^ Musungu, Sisule F.; Oh, Cecilia (August 2005), The use of flexibilities in TRIPS by developing countries: can they promote access to medicines?, Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (CIPIH) 
  12. ^ Finger, J. Michael (2000). "The WTO's special burden on less developed countries" (PDF). Cato Journal 19 (3). 
  13. ^ Banerjee and Nayak, Effects of Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights on the R&D Expenditure of Indian Pharmaceutical Industry,2014 'Journal of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research.
  14. ^ http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195390124.001.0001/acprof-9780195390124-chapter-8
  15. ^ World Trade Organization (2005). "Annual Report 2005". 
  16. ^ "2005 News items - Panel reports out on geographical indications disputes". WTO. 2005-03-15. Retrieved 2012-04-16. 
  17. ^ http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/1391da.pdf
  18. ^ http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/1391db.pdf
  19. ^ http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/170abr_e.pdf
  20. ^ http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news00_e/1234da.pdf
  21. ^ http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news00_e/1234db.pdf
  22. ^ http://www.worldtradelaw.net/reports/wtopanelsfull/canada-pharmaceuticals(panel)(full).pdf
  23. ^ http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/176r_e.pdf
  24. ^ http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/176abr_e.pdf
  25. ^ http://www.worldtradelaw.net/reports/wtopanelsfull/india-patents(panel)(ec)(full).pdf
  26. ^ http://www.worldtradelaw.net/reports/wtopanelsfull/indonesia-autos(panel)(full).pdf
  27. ^ Drahos with Braithwaite, Information Feudalism, New Press 2002, p38
  28. ^ Archibugi, D. and Filippetti, A. (2010) 'The globalization of intellectual property rights: Four learned lessons and four thesis', Journal of Global Policy, 1: 137-49.
  29. ^ Henry, C. and Stiglitz, J. (2010) 'Intellectual Property, Dissemination of Innovation and Sustainable Development', Journal of Global Policy, 1: 237-51.
  • Braithwaite and Drahos, Global Business Regulation, Cambridge University Press, 2000
  • Westkamp, 'TRIPS Principles, Reciprocity and the Creation of Sui-Generis-Type Intellectual Property Rights for New Forms of Technology' [2003] 6(6) The Journal of World Intellectual Property 827-859, ISSN: 1422-2213
  • Banerjee and Nayak, 'Effects of trade related intellectual property rights on the research and development expenditure of Indian pharmaceutical industry' [2014] 5 Journal of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research 89-94.

External links[edit]