What is Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs)?


  • TRIPs provide minimum standards in the form of common set of rules for the protection of intellectual property globally under WTO system.
  • The TRIPs agreement gives set of provisions deals with domestic procedures and remedies for the enforcement of intellectual property rights.
  • Member countries have to prepare necessary national laws to implement the TRIPs provisions.
  • TRIPs cover eight areas for IPRs legislation including patent, copyright and geographical indications.

The TRIPs regime

A breakthrough of the GATT signed in 1994 was that it brought TRIPs as a common standard for the protection of intellectual property globally. Implication of TRIPs is that member countries should design domestic intellectual property legislations on the basis of the TRIPs provisions.

TRIPs as WTO’s IPR regime

TRIPs is considered as a major achievement of the Uruguay Round as an international trade agreement. At the trade negotiations, the developed countries were succeeded in linking intellectual property rights with trade. Until then, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) was the exclusive international institution dealing with intellectual property. With TRIPs, the WTO also emerged as the institution for the protection and promotion of intellectual property globally.

What TRIPs instructs to member countries?

As per the TRIPs provisions, the member countries are required to prepare the necessary legal framework spelling out the scope and standards of protection for rights in regard to intellectual property. Or in other words, the member countries have to adopt TRIPs provisions in their domestic intellectual property legislations like Patent Act, Copyright Act etc.

           WTO advocate necessary amendments to national IPR laws to accommodate the TRIPs provisions. TRIPs agreement is an effort to bring national legislations under common international rules. An important feature of TRIPs is that it is more specific and hard on ‘patents’ -the most important form of intellectual property. In the case of plant rights, geographical indications etc., members can adopt a sui-generis (own designed) IPR regime.

WTO gives following areas of intellectual property – copyright and related rights, trademarks, protection of undisclosed information (trade secrets), geographical indications, industrial designs, integrated circuits, patents, and control of anti-competitive practices in contractual licences. Signing TRIPs means countries have to modify their Patent Act, Copy Right Act, Trade Mark Act etc., in accordance with the provisions of the TRIPs. In India, the government has made a major amendment to the 1970 Patent Act in 2005 to accommodate the TRIPs provisions. In 2010, the Copyright Act was amended and enforced from 2012. Other legislations with respect to Industrial designs also have been made.

The rationale for WTO’s effort to bring an intellectual property protection regime globally

The WTO supports IPR regime under its leadership on the ground that intellectual property is a trade related asset. It asserts that an international attempt is needed because of the wide differences existing in the intellectual property regime across the world.