Law and Practice
As noted in Chapter 1, the first effort to harmonize international trade secret principles occurred as part of the negotiations that led to the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) when the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (‘TRIPS Agreement’) was included as an annex (or appendix) to the broader WTO Agreement. For those unfamiliar with the history and purpose of the TRIPS Agreement, it is important to first understand the significance of its inclusion as an annex to the agreement that created the WTO. As has been noted repeatedly elsewhere, one of the most important features (if not the most important feature) of the WTO Agreement is that it includes enforcement provisions that allow WTO member countries to bring actions against other countries that they contend are not in compliance with the terms of the WTO Agreement. This is done pursuant to a prescribed dispute settlement process that has several stages and can result in an enforceable finding of non-compliance. Any WTO member country that does not comply with the provisions of Article 39 of the TRIPS Agreement may be subjected to the WTO Agreement’s dispute settlement process and, ultimately, may be required to correct its laws.
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