Legal Frameworks, Implications & Challenges at WTO

The General Agreement on Trade and Tariff (GATT) Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) was formulated in the Uruguay round of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade talks among member countries in the year 1994. Trips is regarded as the most important international treaty governing the Intellectual Property rights, which introduced Intellectual Property laws into the realm of international trade. . “The agreement covers five broad issues: how basic principles of the trading system and other international intellectual property agreements should be applied how to give adequate protection to intellectual property rights

how countries should enforce those rights adequately in their own territories how to settle disputes on intellectual property between members of the WTO special transitional arrangements during the period when the new system is being introduced” . Every member of the WTO is under the obligation to implement the terms of the agreement. The main emphasis of the Agreement is on the protection of copyrights. The GATT TRIPS provides for the registration, protection and other administration of the copyrights. The agreement among other things provides for the protection of the computer programming by categorizing this as a literary contribution.

Perhaps this is the most apt provision of the GATT TRIPS Agreement that goes well with most of the nations that have a strong base in Information and Communication Technology for their economic development like India and China. In addition the Agreement also insists on the member countries for forming legislative frameworks in respect of patent laws especially such laws to cover technological innovations and botanical discoveries that are considered related to the hard work of the individuals and nations. “Provisions within the agreement also demand that national protection for patents and copyright be limited.

In terms of these rights, citizens should not receive favoritism from national governments” . There were controversies on the GATT TRIPS Agreement since its initiation in the Uruguay Round of Talks of the WTO. The controversies basically center round the burden the agreement places on the poor and developing nations who are compelled to adhere to the prescribed standards in the agreement in order to retain their memberships. There are a number of issues in this connection like legal and administrative cost requirements, disclosure requirements, compulsory licensing and protection of genetic rights and traditional knowledge.

This paper intends to present an analytical review of various issues and problems being faced by the developing nations in connection with the implementation of the TRIPS agreement in the respective countries in general. There are various other issues faced by the developing nations on a legal basis. The problems relate to the creation of new legal frameworks or integrating the issue of patenting and regulating the genetic resources and traditional knowledge including folklore. This paper also intends to make a presentation on the legal issues connected with the various aspects of implementing the TRIPS in the developing countries.

2. 0 Legal, Legislative and Administrative Costs Requirements: The Agreement on Trade – Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement) is the first WTO agreement that puts an obligation on the part of the members to adhere to certain minimum standards in respect of the establishment of the procedures for enforcement and also the prescription of the norms within their established legal framework. The TRIPS Agreement usually involves itself in negotiations over a wide range of intellectual property rights like copyright, trademark and so on.

The scope of the Agreement also encompasses the regulation of competitive markets, measures for enforcement, settlement of disputes and transitional arrangements. The issues relating to the geographical indications and the protection thereof gained momentum when the issue was included in the agenda for the Uruguay Round of the Talks on General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade for discussion under the intellectual property issues. This inclusion has changed the nature of the issues to a multilateral base form its original national, bilateral or plurilateral nature.

The TRIPS Agreement being the fist and binding agreement, became applicable to the all the member nations of the World Trade Organization. The provisions of the TRIPS Agreement are basically framed on the strength of the Dispute Settlement Understanding that comprises of the dispute settlement procedures of WTO. The TRIPS Council is in charge of the supervision of the TRIPS Agreement and the World Intellectual Property Organisation is entrusted with a minor role of supervision in some of the intellectual property matters.