Q. Why is this in news?
A. India runs the risk of being excluded from a proposal it co-authored at the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, in 2020, to “temporarily waive” intellectual property rights (IPR) held, by primarily Western countries, on vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics for COVID-19.
Q. What is the case?
- India and China are two major global suppliers of medicine.
- A small group of WTO members was discussing suggestions to exclude drug manufacturers in India and China from prospective waivers to IPR obligations.
- IPR obligations are a result of the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) which WTO members are committed to upholding.
Q. What is the Agreement on TRIPS?
- The Agreement on TRIPS is an international legal agreement between all the member nations of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
- It establishes minimum standards for the regulation by national governments of different forms of intellectual property (IP) as applied to nationals of other WTO member nations.
- TRIPS was negotiated at the end of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) between 1989 and 1990 and is administered by the WTO.
- It introduced intellectual property law into the multilateral trading system for the first time and remains the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property to date.
Q. What are its Key provisions?
- TRIPS requires member states to provide strong protection for intellectual property rights.
- It seeks to provide copyright rights, covering authors and other copyright holders, as well as holders of related rights, namely performers, sound recording producers, and broadcasting organizations.
- It provides for geographical indications (GI); industrial designs; integrated circuit layout designs; patents; new plant varieties; trademarks; trade names and undisclosed or confidential information.
- It also specifies enforcement procedures, remedies, and dispute resolution procedures.
- TRIPS also has a most favored nation (MFN) clause.
Q. Why TRIPS?
- The obligations of the main international agreements of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that already existed before the WTO was created:
- Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (patents, industrial designs, etc)
- Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (copyright).
- Some areas are not covered by these agreements. In some cases, the standards of protection prescribed were thought inadequate.
- So the TRIPS Agreement adds significantly to existing international standards.
Q. What else is covered under TRIPS Agreement?
- Copyright terms must extend at least 50 years unless based on the life of the author.
- Computer programs must be regarded as “literary works” under copyright law and receive the same terms of protection.
- Patents must be granted for “inventions” in all fields of technology and must be enforceable for at least 20 years