Intellectual property rights are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds. They usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time. Intellectual property rights are customarily divided into two main areas:
- Copyright and rights related to copyright such as the rights of authors of literary and artistic works
- Industrial property such as industrial designs, invention and trade secrets, distinctive signs, in, particular trademarks, and geographical indications.
The main social purpose of protection of intellectual property is to encourage and reward creative work; to stimulate and ensure fair competition; to protect consumers by enabling them to make informed choices between various goods and services; and to foster investment in the development of new technology by providing the incentive and means of financing research and development activities.
One of the successes of the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations was the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS Agreement), which came into effect on 1 January 1995, is to date most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property. The three main features of the Agreement are:
- Standards. In respect of each of the main areas of intellectual property covered by the TRIPS Agreement, the Agreement sets out the minimum standards of protection to be provided by each Member;
- Enforcement. The second main set of provisions deals with domestic procedures and remedies for the enforcement of intellectual property rights. The Agreement lays down certain general principles applicable to all IPR enforcement procedures.
- Dispute settlement. The Agreement makes disputes between WTO Members about the respect of the TRIPS obligations subject to the WTO's dispute settlement procedures.
The TRIPS Agreement is a minimum standards agreement, which allows Members to provide more extensive protection of intellectual property if they so wish. Members are left free to determine the appropriate method of implementing the provisions of the Agreement within their own legal system and practice
- "Trademarks, Geographical Indications, and Developing Countries, Development, Trade, and the WTO: A Handbook" - Chapter 39, Part V (pdf - 355k)
- TRIPS at the WTO level
- "Intellectual Property: Balancing Incentives with Competitive Access" - Chapter 5 - (pdf - 271k), GEP 2002
- "The Global Distribution of Trademarks: Some Stylized Facts" (pdf - 63k) Baroncelli, Eugenia, Carsten Fink and Beata Smarzynska Javorcik, 2003
- "Trade-related intellectual property issues : the Uruguay Round Agreement and its economic implications", Carlos Alberto Primo Braga, Washington, D.C., World Bank, 1995
- "Composition of Foreign Direct Investment and Protection of Intellectual Property Rights: Evidence from Transition Economies" (pdf - 1.4mb), Beata Javorcik Smarzynska, European Economic Review, 2002
- "The Role of Intellectual Property Rights in Foreign Direct Investment and Technology Transfer" (pdf - 211k), Keith E. Maskus, Prepared for Public-Private Initiatives After TRIPS: Designing a Global Agenda", Brussels July 16-19, 1997
- "Implications of Regional and Multilateral Agreements on Intellectual Property Rights", Keith E. Maskus, Department of Economics, University of Colorado, Boulder
- "The International Regulation of Intellectual Property" (pdf - 108k), Keith E. Maskus, 1997 Seminar Paper 97-11.
- "Regulatory Standards in the WTO: Comparing Intellectual Property Rights with Competition Policy, Environmental Protection and Core Labor Standards" (pdf - 43k), Keith E. Maskus, 2000