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Trade Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

By: Aditi Sharma, Advocate


The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)  is essential for promoting trade in knowledge and innovation, resolving intellectual property trade disputes, and ensuring the freedom of World Trade Organization  (WTO) members to pursue their domestic objectives. The agreement formally recognizes the importance of intellectual property and business relationships. 

What are intellectual property rights? 

“Intellectual property includes rights relating to literary, artistic and scientific works,  discoveries in all fields of human endeavor, scientific progress, industrial design rights, trademarks, service marks, and trade names and designations, protection against unfair competition,” states Article 2 of World Intellectual Property  Organization – Central organization for the protection of intellectual property laws and UN expert organisation. 

Intellectual property rights are rights granted to individuals over the creation of their minds. Creators usually grant exclusive rights to use their creations for a set period of time. Intellectual property (IP) is an intangible asset developed by the human mind. Business organizations can use IP to gain competitive advantage and growth.  An interest in intellectual property, like any other property, may be assigned,  licensed, or otherwise transferred to third parties. 

Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) sets minimum standards for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in member countries that are required to promote effective and adequate protection of intellectual property rights to limit distortions and obstacles to international trade. It covers most forms of intellectual property, including copyright, patents,  geographical indications, trademarks, industrial designs, trade secrets, layout designs (topographies) of integrated circuits, protection of undisclosed information,  control of anti-competitive practices in contractual licenses, and exclusive rights.  over new plant varieties. According to the World Trade Organization, with effect from January 1, 1995, India became a member of the World Trade Organization  (WTO) and became a party to the TRIPS Agreement.

The need for the TRIPS agreement: 

Intellectual property protection was supposed to help promote technical innovation and the transfer and diffusion of new technologies in a way that would benefit both their producers and users while maintaining a balance of rights and obligations, all with the aim of increasing social and economic well-being. Consequently, the main objectives of the TRIPS Agreement were to reduce trade distortions and barriers by promoting effective and appropriate protection of intellectual property rights and ensuring that measures and procedures for the enforcement of intellectual property rights do not become obstacles to legitimate trade. 

Currently, the increase in legislative activity in the area of intellectual property, as well as the rapid adoption of intellectual property rights under TRIPS, have demonstrated the centrality of the TRIPS Agreement in the global trading system.  The TRIPS Agreement continues to play a key role in facilitating international trade in knowledge, addressing trade issues in intellectual property, and guaranteeing  WTO members the freedom to pursue their domestic goals, while intellectual property is at the heart of attempts to reap the benefits of innovation and creativity in today’s global economy. 

Benefits of the TRIPS Agreement: 

1. The world’s attention has been focused on transparency in intellectual property policy. 

2. WIPO’s existing international legal system, designed and controlled by them, was greatly strengthened by this agreement. 

3. Intellectual property commercial conflicts have been reduced by establishing a clear rules-based dispute resolution framework. 

4. It helps in the acquisition and enforcement of intellectual property rights and provides a solid platform for trade in knowledge products. 

5. The number of patent applications is increasing in developing countries 

Disadvantages of the TRIPS Agreement: 

1. TRIPS requires a high level of patent protection. 

2. Fertilizers, insecticides, pharmaceutical items, and processes were not protected by patents, leading to cheap food and medicine. 

3. Education and technology transfer were promoted by insufficient copyright protection for information products. 

4. Jobs in the local copycat industry were lost. 

5. In general, increased prices have led to significant deadweight losses with minimal stimulation of local innovation. 

6. Traditional knowledge is not protected in any way.

The TRIPS Agreement: boon or curse for developing countries: The agreement imposes fundamental and mandatory requirements on the signatory member states for the implementation of basic levels of protection of intellectual property rights in all its elements. However, the agreement has far-reaching implications for developing countries, as strict intellectual property restrictions stifle the growth of domestic businesses in these areas. Intellectual property rights,  although vital, must be exercised cautiously in developing countries because they can harm the economy, public health, and so on. The main consequences of the patent protection regime have a deterrent effect on the expansion of local industries such as pharmaceuticals. 

Intellectual property should not be used to undermine the interests of developing countries, such as public health, which is already being harmed. As a result,  reconsideration is necessary. In addition, exceptions to intellectual property rights will be effectively and strictly enforced when the situation warrants. 


This article can be concluded by stating that despite the importance of the TRIPS  agreement, developing countries have highlighted several problems and shortcomings in the agreement. Despite these problems, the TRIPS Agreement is often considered the most comprehensive mechanism for the protection of intellectual property rights. It extends and manifests previous conventions on intellectual property rights, the most important of which were first drafted in the late nineteenth century. Of course, these agreements have been periodically revised to allow for progressive international control of intellectual property and copyright.  However, compared to the results of previous revisions, the TRIPS Agreement represents a huge conceptual leap that profoundly changes how intellectual property rights are perceived internally, how they are implemented, and how disputes are resolved.