Trade Related Intellectual Property:
Intellectual property rights may be defined as “information with commercial value”. IPRs have been characterized as a composite of “ideas, inventions and creative expressive” plus the “public willingness to bestow the status of property” on them and give their owners the rights to exclude others from access to or use of protected subject-matter.
IPRs may be legally protected by parents, copyrights, industrial designs, geographical indications, and trademarks. Special (sari genris) forms of protection have also emerged to address specific needs of knowledge-producers as in the case of plant breeder’s rights and the protection of layout designs of integrated circuits. A number of countries also have trade secret laws to protect undisclosed information that gives a competitive advantage to its owner.
The UR Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property (TRIPS) covers intellectual properties:
- Copyrights and related rights.
- Geographical indications.
- Industrial designs.
- Layouts designs (topographies) of integrated circuits.
- Undisclosed information, including trade secrets.
The TRIPS Agreement is composed of seven parts and seventy-three articles. Its framework consists of the following:
- A set of general provisions and basic principles that define the scope of the obligation, the relationships between the agreement and existing intellectual property rights conventions, as well as the concepts of national treatment and most favored nation (MFN) treatment as applied to IPRs.
- Specific standards concerning several instruments of IPRs protection and guidelines for the control of anti-competitive practices in licensing IPRs.
- Guidelines for the enforcement of IPRs.
- Disciplines on the procedures and formalities required for the acquisition and maintenance of IPRs.
- Criteria for transparency and provisions for dispute prevention and settlement.
- Transitional arrangements for its implementation (with special reference to the needs of the least developed countries and to technical cooperation).
- Institutional arrangements and final provisions of its execution.
The agreement’s main stated goal, in the preamble is to reduce distortions and impediments in international trade, taking into account the need for effective and adequate protection of IPRs, and at the same time the measures for doing so, do not themselves become barriers to legitimate trade. It also refers to the need to resolve disputes on trade related IPR issues through mutual procedures. The preamble also recognizes the underlying public-policy objectives.
Article 41 encapsulates four. cardinal principles of the enforcement procedures:
- Specified procedures must be made available under the domestic laws to “permits effective action” against present and future acts of infringement. (However, these measures shall be applied in such a manner as to avoid the creation of barriers to legitimate trade and to provide against their abuse).
- Pertinent judicial and administrative procedures must be for “fair and equitable” and not “necessarily complicated’ or likely to cause “unwarranted delays”.
- Courts and administrators must base decisions on evidence available to all
parties, and should normally deliver written and reasoned opinions.
- There must be some form of appellate review for decisions handed down by administrative or judicial agencies of first instance.