The Agreement on Trade related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights of the WTO is commonly known as the TRIPS Agreement or simply TRIPS. TRIPS is one of the main agreements comprising the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement. This Agreement was negotiated as part of the eighth round of multilateral trade negotiations in the period 1986-94 under General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) commonly referred to as the Uruguay Round extending from 1986 to 1994. It appears as Annex 1 C of the Marrakesh Agreement which is the name for the main WTO Agreement. The Uruguay Round introduced intellectual property rights into the multilateral trading system for the first time through a set of comprehensive disciplines. The TRIPS Agreement is part of the “single undertaking” resulting from the Uruguay Round negotiations. This implies that the TRIPS Agreement applies to all WTO members, mandatorily. It also means that the provisions of the agreement are subject to WTO dispute settlement mechanism which is contained in the Dispute Settlement Understanding (the “Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes”). The TRIPS Agreement is one of the most important agreements of the WTO.
The three important features of the Agreement are:
In respect of each of the areas of IP covered by the Agreement, each of the member nations is obliged to provide a minimum set of standards for protecting the respective IPR. Under each of the areas of IP covered by the Agreement, the main elements of protection are defined, namely the subject-matter to be protected, the rights to be conferred and permissible exceptions to those rights, and the minimum duration of protection.
Each member nation is obliged to provide domestic procedures and remedies with respect to protection of IPR. The Agreement lays down certain general principles applicable to all IPR enforcement procedures. The Agreement also lays down certain other provisions on civil and administrative procedures and remedies, special requirements related to border measures and criminal procedures, which specify, in a certain amount of detail, the procedures and remedies that must be available so that right holders can effectively enforce their rights.
- Dispute Settlement
Under the Agreement disputes between WTO member nations regarding the respect of the TRIPS obligations are subject to the WTO’s dispute settlement procedures.
STRUCTURE OF THE TRIPS AGREEMENT
The three important features of the Agreement, i.e. standards, enforcement and dispute settlement are covered in seven parts i.e. the Agreement consists of seven parts. Part I deals with the general provisions and basic principles. Part II describes the standards concerning the availability, scope and use of IPR with respect to different types of IP. Part III describes the IPR enforcement obligations of member nations, and Part IV addresses the provisions for acquiring and maintaining IPR. Part V is directed specifically to dispute settlement under the Agreement. Part VI concerns transitional arrangements, and the Part VII concerns various institutional arrangements.