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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


At the time of the TRIPS negotiations, the formal protection of ‘layout-designs (topographies) of integrated circuits’ was considered important; its relevance and importance are no longer so certain. In large part this probably reflects the industry structure, with its potential to achieve the same benefits of protection by other contractual and intellectual property arrangements. However, TRIPS does provide certain minimum requirements and Members must provide for these, albeit that they are open to considerable interpretation. In the US, the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act 1984 first implemented the protection of layout designs of integrated circuits. This sui generis scheme was adopted by the US as patent and copyright alone were considered unsatisfactory. Similar legislation has subsequently been taken up by other developed countries. Around the same time WIPO also convened a Diplomatic Conference to establish some standards. The standards adopted were set out in the Treaty on Intellectual Property in Respect of Integrated Circuits (‘IPIC Treaty’) that followed the United States’ sui generis approach while leaving open other forms of protection.

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