The trade-related intellectual property rights definition is rights given over to persons who have created something regarding trade. These rights give the creator the exclusivity to control the sales, reproduction, display, and use of their creation for a given period of time. 

Types of Property Rights

When discussing intellectual property, most rights can be categorized into two primary areas: copyright and inventions.

1. Copyright

Copyright is used when someone creates a literary or artistic work including such things as:

  • Books
  • Music
  • Paintings
  • Sculptures
  • Computer programs

These types of works will be protected until 50 years following the death of the author. Also protected under some of the copyright laws include neighboring or copyright-related entities such as:

  • Performers
  • Sound recording producers
  • Broadcasting organizations

Copyright laws exist to help encourage creative individuals to continue to produce work by allowing them to benefit from their labor. 

These laws also exist in areas such as the protection of distinctive signage, logos, and markings under trademark laws. Some things protected under the area of trademarks include both specific markings for a company as well as geographic indications that can designate where something was produced.

The protection of trademarked items is so customers can distinguish the specific goods from certain companies and be able to make informed choices for their goods and services. As long as the marking or signage continues to remain distinctive, it may be protected under intellectual property law.

2. Inventions

These types of property are primarily created to help stimulate innovation, as well as the creation and design of new technology. Inventions are protected by patents and often cover things such as trade secrets and industrial design.

Intellectual property law serves a social purpose regarding inventions by protecting a company's investment in and development of new processes and technology to allow them the time to implement the development. When managing intellectual property, businesses should also consider such matters as the transfer of the technology and inventions through such means as:

  • Foreign direct investment
  • Joint ventures
  • Licensing

The protection that intellectual property rights provide is set for a finite term. It is usually 20 years in the case of patents.

An Overview of the TRIPS Agreement 

In January of 1995, the TRIPS Agreement was put into effect as a comprehensive agreement on intellectual property. Countries that are members of the World Trade Organization are automatically bound by the parameters of the agreement. The agreement covers copyright and related issues of intellectual property including:

  • Copyright
  • Neighboring rights
  • Service marks
  • Geographical indications
  • Patents
  • Layout design of integrated circuits 
  • Trade secrets
  • Test data

TRIPS Agreement Standards 

The agreement lays out minimum standards that all members must follow. Each of the sections of the agreement will:

  • Define the subject matter that is protected
  • Any permissible exceptions to the rights
  • The duration of protection

 The first section of the agreement defines all of the standards from each of the conventions that were held to outline and address the issues of intellectual property such as:

  • WIP
  • Paris Convention
  • Berne Convention

The TRIPS Agreement also adds and defines a number of obligations that must be met, as well as addresses problems and concerns that were brought up by the convention.

The Enforcement of the TRIPS Agreement

The second set of provisions listed in the TRIPS Agreement outlines the procedures and remedies for dealing with the enforcement of intellectual property rights. Each member country must prepare its national laws to be in compliance with the provisions outlined in the agreement. This section also discusses all of the applicable intellectual property rights enforcement procedures. This includes requirements for criminal proceedings and other procedures and remedies.

Dispute Settlement in the TRIPS Agreement

Any disputes that occur among members of the WTO will be subjected to the dispute settlement procedures outlined in the TRIPS Agreement. Included in the procedures are general rules to prevent procedural difficulties, as well as provisions such as the national and most-favored-nation treatment. While all members of the organization will be subject to the same obligations, countries that are still developing will be allowed a longer time frame to phase them in.

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