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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


As an addition to the enforcement of intellectual property by Members, Articles 51–60 establish a series of special requirements related to border measures. In effect these border measures impose on Members obligations to institute customs controls on the import and export of IP protected goods. The measures establish the procedures and conditions to enable right holders to get customs authorities to prevent the release of allegedly infringing IP protected goods. These are the ‘new rules and disciplines’ addressed in the TRIPS Preamble for the ‘effective and appropriate means for the enforcement of trade-related IP rights, taking into account differences in national legal sys- tems’. Concerns about border measures and their limited status under the Paris Convention (1967) and Berne Convention (1971) were a principal reason for the TRIPS negotiations and the standards adopted reflected the practice of developed nations. These measures also impose significant costs to implement requiring the infrastructure of customs controls and a judicial or other mechanism to enforce the IP claims. Significantly, the footnote to the section heading clarifies that the conception of a border is the outer border controlling the import and export into the bordered regions that will include customs unions of more than one Member, such as the EU.

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