TRIPS and Its Contents
39 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 5, 2019
In 2006, I published TRIPS and Its Discontents as part of a symposium commemorating the tenth anniversary of the TRIPS Agreement. At that time, developing countries were deeply discontent with the Agreement and the new and higher intellectual property standards that the WTO had imposed upon them. By contrast, when the TRIPS Agreement was about to celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary earlier this year, the developing countries' trenchant critiques of the Agreement were mostly gone. Also disappearing were their usual accusations of coercion and neo-imperialism.
What has happened? Have developing countries successfully adjusted, or become sensitized, to the high intellectual property standards in the TRIPS Agreement? Have these countries and their supportive commentators and nongovernmental organizations become tired of criticizing the Agreement? Have developing countries and their supporters moved on to other more pressing issues in the areas of intellectual property and international trade? Have these countries been initially mistaken about the negative ramifications of the TRIPS Agreement and eventually found out that the Agreement was beneficial after all?
Written for the Second Annual Intellectual Property Redux Conference, this article seeks to answer these questions by revisiting the TRIPS developments in the past twenty-five years. It begins by offering five reasons to explain why developing countries have gradually shifted their views from being discontent with the TRIPS Agreement to being content with it. The article then turns to four observations that will inform the Agreement's past as well as the ongoing and future development of the international intellectual property regime. The article concludes by identifying three active roles that the TRIPS Agreement will continue to play in the near future, viewing from the developing countries' perspective.
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