When it comes to an agreement on trade related aspects of intellectual property rights, you should know that the World Trade Organization plays a key role. The WTO is an international organization that handles trade rules between countries. As of 2005, the WTO comprises 148 member nations. WTO members adhere to 18 agreements that comprise the organization.

Members cannot agree to some agreements; each member nation must agree to all of the terms. However, there are certain agreements that are not outright obligatory. Of the agreements, is the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, otherwise called TRIPS. TRIPS will have a huge impact on the pharmaceutical industry, especially pertaining to medicine access. This agreement was enacted in 1995 and is the most comprehensive agreement regarding IP. TRIPS is also the most important international agreement on IP. The agreement refers to most IP forms, such as:

  1. Trademarks
  2. Trade secrets
  3. Copyrights
  4. Patents
  5. Exclusive rights on plant species
  6. Geographic indications

Such a decision green-lights the agreement that created the WTO on behalf of the EU. TRIPS has two primary goals:

  1. It ensures an appropriate and effective protection measure for trade-based IP rights and also takes into consideration the differences in legal for all nations
  2. TRIPS creates a multilateral standard that helps counter copyright infringement and counterfeiting

Agreement Standards

The agreement also introduced international standards in the enforcement and protections of almost all IPs, including patents. International conventions before TRIPS did not detail minimal standards regarding patents, and more than 40 nations did not grant patent protections for pharmaceutical products when negotiations started. TRIPS also mandates that all members within WTO change the laws of their respective nations to meet the minimum rules of IPR protections. Moreover, the agreement also mentions obligations regarding the enforcement of IP rights.

It also has provisions allowing degrees of flexibility and enough room for nations to adopt their own IP and patent systems to conform to the rules. Nations have some freedom in changing the regulations, and they can formulate national legislation to make sure there’s a good balance between incentives on future drug innovations and creating affordable medicines for the public.

TRIPS Components

TRIPS has allowed all parts of IP to be covered under the agreement. Such aspects include:

  1. Neighboring rights and copyrights
  2. Trademarks on goods and services
  3. Patents
  4. Topographies
  5. Microchips
  6. Geographical indications

Such enforcement and protections of IP should enhance tech innovation and help users and producers. Moreover, such enforcement measures are designed to enhance the economic and social fabric of society at large.

TRIPS Safeguards

Patent safeguards for the TRIPS agreement provide protections for a minimum 20-year term from the registration date of the patent, including for pharmaceutical products. Before TRIPS, the duration of the patent was shorter in many nations. For instance, nations usually provided patents between 15 to 17 years, while various developing nations only granted five to seven years. The agreement also mandated nations to give patent safeguards for products and processes in all areas of technology. Prior to TRIPS, many nations provide only approved process patents and not product-based ones.

Patent Protections

Product patents give absolute protections on the product, where process patents give protections to the method or process of manufacturing a product. In addition, TRIPS requires that members safeguard test data that’s not disclosed and submitted to the proper regulatory officials to get market approval, and to protect against unfair commercial usage. Because nations have considerable leeway in describing unfair commercial usage, it can be argued that nations may meet such obligations to protect the data by forbidding the dishonest use of that data. The use by government officials to asses the toxicity and efficacy of a pharmaceutical product would be changed in such a case.

Exclusive Data

With that, it can also be argued that exclusive data is a necessary component of TRIPS. Exclusive data allows the holder sole rights over test data, preventing regulatory officials from using test data to register any generic varieties. Before TRIPS took effect, most nations allowed the reliance on an originator’s test data to approve generics. Once the originator submitted test data, officials could use the data to approve various applications of products that were the same, or they could rely on the proof of prior approval of a similar product from another nation.

If you have more questions on an agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights, submit your legal inquiry to our UpCounsel marketplace. UpCounsel’s attorneys will provide greater insight into IP rights and what you can do to secure your data. Moreover, they will assist you in any legal action in case a person or company violates your IP rights.