Rami Olwan

All About CyberLaw, Copyright and Developing Countries

IP, TRIPS and Development

The recognition of intellectual property rights is integral to innovation systems and assumes even greater significance when products and services are traded in global markets. The WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement) which was adopted at the conclusion of the Uruguay Round established for the first time a formal link between the regulation of the world trading system and intellectual property rights in internationally traded goods and services. TRIPS establishes minimum standards for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property which are binding on all WTO members. For developing and least-developed countries, the implementation of their TRIPS obligations presents particular challenges. While the precise relationship between intellectual property and development remains contentious, it is acknowledged that development is not necessarily promoted merely by the introduction of intellectual property systems; rather, intellectual property protection must form part of a wider development strategy. The question for developing and least-developed countries is how to implement TRIPS in a manner that also serves their social and economic development needs and objectives.

This chapter provides an overview of the international regulation of intellectual property, through numerous multilateral, regional and bilateral agreements. It considers the minimum standards prescribed by TRIPS and the strengthening of intellectual property protection and enforcement obligations in subsequent regional and bilateral free trade agreements and multilateral agreements. Various general and specific flexibilities provided by TRIPS are described and the use of these by developing and least-developed countries to design intellectual property systems that promote their development is examined. Increasingly, the need to achieve a better alignment between the development needs of developing and least-developed countries and intellectual property protection is being recognised, as demonstrated by proposed amendments to TRIPS to provide greater flexibility for public health measures and the adoption of a Development Agenda by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). To read the full chapter, please click here.

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