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Intellectual Property Rights

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:

  1. Copyright and rights related to copyright such as the rights of authors of literary and artistic works
  2. 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

Suggested readings:


WPS5677International harmonization of product standards and firm heterogeneity in international tradeReyes, Jose-Daniel2011/06
WPS5228Intellectual property rights and the TRIPS agreement : an overview of ethical problems and some proposed solutionsSonderholm, Jorn2010/03
WPS5217Intellectual property rights, human capital and the incidence of R&D expendituresBravo-Ortega, Claudio; Lederman, Daniel2010/02
WPS5043Technology adoption and factor proportions in open economies : theory and evidence from the global computer industryCusolito , Ana P.; Lederman, Daniel2009/09
WPS3305Do stronger intellectual property rights increase international technology transfer? Empirical evidence from U.S. firm-level panel dataBranstetter, Lee G.; Fisman, Raymond; Foley, C. Fritz2004/05

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