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Even though an individual may have taken all of the necessary steps to protect their intellectual property rights in their home country, it does not guarantee protection of these rights in other countries. Given the widespread distribution of pirated and counterfeit goods in the international marketplace, it is important for individuals to receive intellectual property protections across national borders. One of the multinational treaties providing protection against intellectual property right violations is the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs).

WTO and TRIPs Protections

The World Trade Organization, an international body with 153 members, has executed several treaties concerning the global protection of intellectual property rights, including the Paris Convention for Protecting Industrial Property and the Berne Convention for Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Building off of these earlier treaties, TRIPs strengthens the protections afforded by previous treaties. The agreement sets minimum standards for protection of intellectual property rights that each member country is bound to give to all other member countries. The agreement covers:

  • Patents
  • Trademarks
  • Copyrights
  • Trade secrets and undisclosed information
  • Geographical indicators
  • Industrial designs
  • Integrated circuits layout designs

TRIPs also has provisions providing the governments of member countries the authority to take action to curb anticompetitive licensing contracts in instances when these contracts restrict competition or impede technology transfers.

Technology Transfers

TRIPs also seeks to balance the need to protect intellectual property rights with the need to promote technology transfers to developing countries. There is a concern that as rules protecting intellectual property rights are strengthened, it will negatively impact the ability of developing countries to compete in the global marketplace and to develop their societies and infrastructure more fully. To combat this issue, TRIPs provides incentives to developed countries to enter into technology transfers with developing member countries.

Enforcement

The TRIPs agreement requires member countries to implement a system under their own national laws to enforce the treaty, including administrative, civil and criminal processes. The agreement specifically details how the enforcement system should be created, the level of evidence required to maintain a legal action and the remedies that should be made available. TRIPs requires that the penalties be severe enough to deter future violations while at the same time not create an unduly imposition on free trade. Some of the available remedies include:

  • Injunctions, including those to prevent certain goods from entering a member country
  • Damages, including attorney fees, court costs and recovery of profits
  • Criminal penalties for willful trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy

Courts also have the power to destroy infringing goods and dispose of any instruments, devices or other tools that made the infringement possible. Additionally, they may order infringers to name any third parties who may have contributed or otherwise aided the infringement.

TRIPs also includes protections to prevent abuse of power by governments when enforcing the agreement, such as requiring the payment of adequate compensation to someone who was wrongly enjoined or restrained from trade.

To learn more about the applicability of international protections to your intellectual property rights, contact an experienced attorney in your area today.

Learn More: Reasons to Contact an Intellectual Property Attorney

To read and print out a copy of the checklist, please follow the link below.

Reasons to Contact an Intellectual Property Attorney

You can download a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader here

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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