Intellectual property (IP), broadly defined, is a series of privileges accorded to inventors and creators. These privileges are recognized through a series of international agreements that establish minimum standards. The most significant of these agreements is probably the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) that binds WTO Member States to comply with a range of existing international IP agreements, and then imposes minimum standards for copyright and related rights, trademarks, geographical indications, industrial designs, patents, layout designs (topographies) of integrated circuits, and undisclosed information (TRIPS Articles 9-39). These IP privileges are generally recognized and enforced through national laws that are consistent with these international norms. The result is a patchwork of national laws, each attempting to articulate at least the minimum standards (albeit many are more generous-the so-called "TRIPS-plus") in the context of national and regional choices. The TRIPS standards adopted and applied by WTO Member States are then subject to WTO dispute resolution and penalties that include retaliatory trade sanctions where states have not implemented and applied their obligations to maintain TRIPS' minimum IP standards (TRIPS Article 64). The WTO dispute resolution and sanction mechanism makes TRIPS one the few enforceable international laws, and hence its gravity in assessing the impacts of IP.
Socio-Economic Considerations in Biotechnology Regulation
Intellectual Property Law