Why Is Trips Agreement Important

The TRIPS Agreement introduced intellectual property law into the multilateral trading system for the first time and remains the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property to date. In 2001, developing countries, concerned that developed countries were insisting on too narrow an interpretation of TRIPS, launched a round table that resulted in the Doha Declaration. The Doha Declaration is a WTO declaration that clarifies the scope of the TRIPS Agreement and states, for example, that the TRIPS Agreement can and should be interpreted in terms of the objective of “promoting access to medicines for all”. The current copyright and patent standards set out in the TRIPS Agreement come largely from other sources. With regard to copyright, the Berne Convention is at the origin of most of the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement. The main areas in which the TRIPS Agreement extends Bernese copyright provisions are the explicit protection of software and databases. Similarly, the Paris Agreement provides the source for the patent provisions of the TRIPS Agreement, to which the TRIPS Agreement mainly adds implementing provisions. The Berne and Paris Conventions are administered by WIPO. The extent to which these rights are protected and enforced varies considerably from country to country; and as intellectual property has become more important in trade, these differences have become a source of tension in international economic relations.

The new internationally agreed trade rules for intellectual property rights were seen as a means of introducing more order and predictability and resolving disputes more systematically. These agreements are expected to have the greatest impact on the pharmaceutical sector and access to medicines in trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS). The TRIPS Agreement has been in force since 1995 and is the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property to date. The TRIPS Agreement introduced global minimum standards for the protection and enforcement of almost all forms of intellectual property rights (IPRs), including those relating to patents. International agreements prior to the TRIPS Agreement did not establish minimum standards for patents. At the time negotiations began, more than 40 countries around the world did not grant patent protection for pharmaceuticals. The TRIPS Agreement now obliges all WTO Members, with a few exceptions, to adapt their legislation to minimum standards for the protection of intellectual property rights. In addition, the TRIPS Agreement also introduced detailed obligations for the enforcement of intellectual property rights. The 2002 Doha Declaration reaffirms that the TRIPS Agreement must not prevent Members from taking the necessary measures to protect public health.

Despite this recognition, less developed countries have argued that flexible travel arrangements, such as compulsory licensing, are almost impossible to exercise. Less developed countries, in particular, cited their fleeing domestic manufacturing and technology industries as evidence of the brutality of politics. While the WTO Agreements entered into force on 1 January 1995, the TRIPS Agreement granted WTO Members certain transitional periods before they were required to apply all its provisions. Members of developed countries have been given one year to ensure that their laws and practices are in line with the TRIPS Agreement. Developing countries and (under certain conditions) countries with economies in transition were granted five years, until the year 2000. The least developed countries were initially 11 years old, until 2006 – now generally extended until 1 July 2021. [iv] Botov (2004) describes how developed countries have had more than a century – from the Paris Convention in 1883 to the WTO Agreement in 1995 – to fully develop their IPR regimes, and suggests that the same room for manoeuvre should be extended to today`s developing countries. .

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