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The WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights

The WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights

A Commentary

Elgar Commentaries series

Justin Malbon, Charles Lawson and Mark Davison

This Commentary on the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) provides a detailed textual analysis of TRIPS – a pivotal international agreement on intellectual property rights. TRIPS sets minimum standards for national laws on copyright, patents, trademarks and other forms of intellectual property rights. TRIPS profoundly impacts upon the regulation of access to medicines, compulsory licensing of copyright material, geographical indicators and other significant IP-related matters.


Justin Malbon, Charles Lawson and Mark Davison

Subjects: law - academic, intellectual property law, law -professional, intellectual property law, politics and public policy, international relations


The legal protection of industrial designs generally covers the protection of rights regarding the ornamental or aesthetic aspects of industrial and handicraft products. There is little if any international consensus about the appropriate way to protect industrial designs. One view is that industrial designs should develop (and indeed have developed) as a distinct category of intellectual property protection. This, it is claimed, is because of the unique nature and purpose of industrial designs – which attempt to incorporate both functional and aesthetic features into a tangible object. It has been observed that: Industrial designs developed into a distinct object of intellectual property because of their peculiar nature aimed at satisfying both aesthetic and functional purposes when incorporated in a tangible product. Industrial designs are at the crossroads of art and technology, since the designers of industrial products strive to create products whose shape or appearance will satisfy the aesthetic preferences of consumers as well as their expectations with regard to the functional performance of those products. Since the original 1883 text of the Paris Convention (1967) there has been a lack of international consensus about the best way to protect industrial designs. The Paris Convention (1967) Article 5quinquies makes provision for ‘industrial designs’ in the context of ‘industrial property’, while the Berne Convention (1971) Articles 2(7) and 7(4) makes provision for ‘works of applied art and industrial designs and models’ in the context of ‘literary and artistic works’.

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