Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs)

The trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreements, a major provision of the World Trade Organization, is the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property to date. TRIPs sets standards of protection for a full range of intellectual property rights that are embodied in current international agreements. The three main provisions of the TRIPs agreement require that participating members be in compliance property rights, and make disputes between WTO members wit respect to TRIPs obligations subject to the WTO’s dispute settlement procedures.

Once a trademark, patent or other intellectual property right is registered, most countries require that these rights be worked and properly policed. The United States is one of the few countries in which an individual can hold a patent without the patented entity being manufactured and sold throughout the duration of the patent period with the citizens of the country. Hence, if patents are not produced within a specified period, usually from one to five years (the average is three years), the patent reverts to public domain.

This rule is also true for trademark; products bearing the registered mark must be sold within the country or the company may forfeit its right to a particular trademark. McDonald’s faced that problem in Venezuela. Even though the McDonald’s trademark was properly registered in that code law country, the company did not use it for more than two years. Under Venezuelan law, a trademark must be used within two years or it is lost. Thus a Venezuelan owned Mr McDonalds, with accompanying golden arches, is operating in Venezuela. The US McDonald’s Corporation faces a potentially costly legal battle if it decides to challenge the Venezuelan company.

Individual countries expect companies to actively police their intellectual property by bringing violators to court. Policing can be a difficult task, with success depending in large measure on the cooperation of the country within which the infringement or piracy takes place. A lack of cooperation in some countries may stem for cultural differences regarding how intellectual property is viewed. In the United States, the goal of protection of intellectual property is to encourage invention and to protect and reward innovation businesses. In, Korea, the attitude is that the thoughts of one person should benefit all. In Japan, the intent is to share technology rather than protect it. An invention should serve a larger national goal, with the rapid spread of technology among competitors in a manner that promotes cooperation. In light of such attitudes, the lack of enthusiasm toward protecting intellectual property is better understood. The United States is a strong advocate of protection, and at US insistence many countries are becoming more cooperative about policing cases of infringement and piracy. After decades of debate, European Union ministers agreed on a common continent wide system for patented inventions. Instead of being forced to submit an application in all EU countries languages inventors can submit only one, in English, French or German.

The three faces of piracy and / or reform depending how you look at them>>>

1) American youths, particularly on college campuses are protesting the current intellectual property laws and the associated enforcement tools. The fellow with the eye patch was attending a seminar on the topic lead by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
2) Aside from the US, the biggest piracy problem is China. Here Jackie Chan helps the Chinese Government crack down. This well forecasts the probably path of IP piracy in China. That is, pirates have turned into policeman historically in the United States, Japan, and Taiwan as the production of intellectual property took off in each country. The same will happen in China during the next decade as artists, researchers and entrepreneurs there produce new ideas worth protecting
3) The HIV / AIDS epidemic is an economic and health catastrophe which many in sub Saharan African believe is exacerbated by drug companies’ pricing policies and protection of intellectual property. Here protestors march toward the US embassy in Pretoria, South Africa.