TRIPs and Its Discontents
42 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2005 Last revised: 4 Dec 2014
The TRIPs Agreement was established at the ministerial meeting in Marrakesh in April 1994. Since its establishment, many less developed countries have become dissatisfied with the international intellectual property system. From their perspective, the system fails to take into consideration their needs, interests, and local conditions. The strong protection mandated by the Agreement also threatens their much-needed access to information, knowledge, and essential medicines.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the TRIPs Agreement. It provides an excellent opportunity to assess the Agreement's achievements and shortfalls, in particular its impact on the international community as well as on other areas not related to intellectual property, such as agriculture, health, the environment, education, and culture. As we move into the second decade of this Agreement, it is also appropriate to explore how we can preserve the goals and intentions behind the TRIPs negotiations and to look ahead at the future challenges confronting the international intellectual property system.
Published as part of the Symposium on The First Ten Years of the TRIPs Agreement, this article begins by describing the four different narratives used to explain the origins of the Agreement. It contends that while none of these narratives is complete, each provides valuable insight into understanding the context in which the Agreement was created. The article then explores why less developed countries have been dissatisfied with the international intellectual property system and discusses the latest developments in the area, such as the recent WTO debacle in Cancun, the proliferation of bilateral and plurilateral free trade agreements, and the increasing use of technological protection measures. The article concludes by offering suggestions on how less developed countries can reform the international intellectual property system. Instead of calling for a complete overhaul or the abandonment of the TRIPs Agreement, the article takes the position that the Agreement is here to stay and explores, from that standpoint, how less developed countries can take advantage of the Agreement and reform the international intellectual property system.
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