The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) was negotiated during the Uruguay Round of talks of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). It is an international agreement that sets down minimum protection standards on various intellectual property rights. It is administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and applies to all members of the WTO.
The TRIPS agreement’s goal was to standardize the way intellectual property rights are protected around the world in order to provide inventors with an incentive to produce ideas that will benefit society as a whole. “It strikes a balance between the long term benefits and possible short term costs to society. Society benefits in the long term when intellectual property protection encourages creation and invention, especially when the period of protection expires and the creations and inventions enter the public domain.” (WTO website on TRIPS)
Nevertheless the TRIPS agreement has been criticised for limiting access to medicine in developing countries and distributing wealth from the developing countries to the developed ones. In response to these concerns the Doha Declaration was released in 2001 reinterpreting the agreement “in a manner supportive of WTO members” (WTO website on Doha) right to protect public health and, in particular, “to promote access to medicines for all” and reaffirming the provision for flexibility to circumvent patent rights for this purpose.
WTO website on the TRIPS agreement http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/tif_e/agrm7_e.htm
WTO website on the Doha Declaration http://www.wto.org/english/theWTO_e/minist_e/min01_e/mindecl_trips_e.htm
Entry submitted by Samantha Krawczyk