Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

By Aarna Tiwari|Updated : September 9th, 2022

TRIPS is an international agreement between the World Trade Organization's member countries on Intellectual Property Rights. This agreement sets up base standards for accessibility, scope, and utilization of all seven types of intellectual properties. The full form of TRIPS is Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. The TRIPS agreement came into force in 1995 at the WTO. TRIPS guarantees minimum standards of IP protection, and all WTO member nations are supposed to follow the terms mentioned in the TRIPS agreement. In addition, it lays down basic parameters for how many diverse sorts of intellectual property (IP) should be monitored by national governments when they pertain to citizens of other WTO members.

TRIPS is an essential concept for the UPSC Exam. Students preparing for the upcoming IAS Exam must go through the topic well. The article covers all the relevant information related to TRIPS, including its concepts, benefits, IPR and data exclusivity, etc.

Table of Content

TRIPS Agreement- Basic Concept

The TRIPS entered into force as a component of the 1995 agreement that created the World Trade Organization (WTO). Trademarks, geographical indications, industrial designs, copyrights, patents, industrial designs, layout designs for consolidated circuits, and hidden knowledge or trade confidentiality are the seven intellectual property types that TRIPS lays out minimum requirements for obtainability, scope, and use.

The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) adheres to member states' core trade principles concerning intellectual property, all WTO members must abide by it. The TRIPS Agreement stipulates reasonable exceptions and constraints to reconcile intellectual property rights with community health and economic progress objectives.

The most robust international IP agreement, TRIPS, tends to play an influential role in fostering commerce in creativity and knowledge, addressing trade disputes comprising intellectual property, and enabling WTO members with the autonomy to pursue their domestic policy goals. The agreement also shapes the intellectual property system regarding innovations, technology transmission, and public welfare.

The TRIPS Agreement must be assessed and implemented under the jurisdiction of the TRIPS Council. The TRIPS agreement was outlined at the time of the Uruguay Round that lasted from 1986 to 1994 for GATT. The terminology "Berne and Paris-plus" also refers to the TRIPS Agreement.

Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property is an umbrella term for a collection of intangible or non-physical assets and is granted to individuals over their creative creations. Intellectual property is the right to use and control one's intellectual property. It is a legal right for anyone who owns or has an intellectual property right. Therefore, individuals, businesses, and governments must defend their intellectual property. To protect intellectual property rights, individuals and communities must comprehend how they work and the rights they grant to someone.

The categories of intellectual property rights include

  • industrial designs
  • trade secrets
  • exclusionary rights over new plant varieties
  • geographical indications
  • trademarks
  • copyright
  • patents

How is the TRIPS Agreement Beneficial for Intellectual Property

The TRIPS Agreement has its key focus on safeguarding intellectual properties in the World Trade Organization and the international trading system. The TRIPS agreement is often a pillar of the World Trade Organization. The remaining two are trading in services and commodities (the traditional competence of the GATT).

Before TRIPS, there were notable sectoral discrepancies in the range of IP protection and enforcement. However, as IP grew more crucial to commerce, these discrepancies became a focus of contention in international economic relations. To have more order and reliability and to adjudicate controversies in an orderly manner, it was therefore thought advisable to endorse new trade regulatory requirements for IP rights.

Relaxation Favoring TRIPS

The following are the favouring relaxations associated with the TRIPS agreement:

  • This would increase access to immunizations for residents of LDCs and developing nations.
  • Everybody must be exposed to life-saving medications, medical help, and vaccines. Thus, pharmaceutical enterprises shouldn't strive to make an extraordinary profit from them. It creates moral and ethical dilemmas at stake here.
  • Individuals are not safe until everyone is safe, a saying that applies primarily to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, given that it can swiftly spread to all continents, as was the scenario with the first wave, vaccines must be made obtainable to everyone in the affected countries.
  • Rules that award monopolies and insert the right to primary healthcare under serious jeopardy must be repealed.

Contradicting Relaxation of TRIPS

Let's discuss some of the contradicting relaxations associated with TRIPS:

  • Corporations wouldn't be able to retrieve the funds they invested in R&D unless they were reimbursed for their invention.
  • Without the potential to dominate output, there won't be any motivation to encourage innovation.
  • They also assert that corporations in impoverished countries are unwilling to generate immunizations or pharmaceuticals on a large scale.

What is Data Exclusivity?

Data exclusivity is the practice of excluding data from use in a research study. It is a form of data mining that allows researchers to access data without handing over the raw data. This can be used to examine the impact of a new research technique or find out what factors affect how well a product performs. Data exclusivity can be used by researchers who want to gain insight into their subject's performance or by those who want to understand the factors that influence how well a product performs.

Data exclusivity can also be used by researchers who want to understand how much data they need to make an informed decision about their research topic. It can also be used by those who want to learn more about the subject under study and how well it performs. Data with high commercial value needs to be well protected.

The developed world has put forth the demand for such protection that is not part of the TRIPS Agreement.

TRIPS Agreement- TRIPS Plus

They are not officially associated with TRIPs, despite the moniker "TRIPS-Plus." Instead, the phrase emphasizes that these expectations go above and beyond the fundamental commitments set forth under TRIPs. There is pressure on many FTA-affiliated developing nations to embrace these harsher requirements in their patent legislation.

TRIPS Agreement- Doha Declaration

In 2001, the Doha Declaration was ratified by WTO members. It reiterated TRIPS' adaptability in situations incorporating patent rights. This was done to facilitate access to appropriate medications. According to the Doha Declaration, the TRIPS agreement will not preclude governments from undertaking initiatives to protect public health. This loosened TRIPS guidelines. Everyone has recourse to life-saving medicines and immunizations. Pharmaceutical firms must not benefit from these.

Fears Expressed over the Doha Declaration

Corporate entities contended that they would incur losses relative to the sums invested in the research and development of their inventions were not recognized and compensated. Additionally, removing the right to monopoly in the pharmaceutical industry will lessen the incentives for innovation. Finally, the businesses contended that developing-nation companies could not produce medications and vaccines on a significant scale.

TRIPS Agreement UPSC

TRIPS is an essential topic for UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains. To prepare for this topic, one must cover the NCERT Books for UPSC, Economics Books for UPSC, along with Economy Notes for UPSC. Covering these three will be sufficient. Other than this, special emphasis should be made on Current Affairs too.

The Aspirants who are going to appear for the UPSC Exam must refer to the UPSC Syllabus to understand the UPSC Exam Pattern better. Aspirants should also practice UPSC Previous Year Question Paper and refer to other UPSC Study Materials.

TRIPS UPSC Sample Question

Question: With reference to the National Intellectual Property Rights Policy, consider the following statements:

  1. It reiterates India's commitment to the Doha Development Agenda and the TRIPS Agreement
  2. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion is the nodal agency for regulating intellectual property rights in India

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

Other Important UPSC Notes
Forest Rights Act 2006UN Environment Programme
List of High Courts in IndiaKeshvananda Bharti Case
Red Sanders in IndiaMonetary Policy
Good GovernanceSocial Empowerment
Public Distribution SystemAyushman Bharat Scheme


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FAQs on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights

  • The Full Form of TRIPS stands for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

  • The WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property (IP).

  • Intellectual property is the legal right to control intellectual property's creation, distribution, and use (IP). IP rights are the rights to control how other people use your intellectual property. For example, a patent is a legal right that allows you to make your inventions public and sell them for profit.

  • To oversee the TRIPS Agreement, there is a TRIPS Council. It incorporates every WTO signatory. WTO means World-trade organization, which is a trade organization that was created in the early 1990s to promote free trade and promote economic growth.

  • Rights Accord or "Poison Pill" An enterprise will routinely implement an anti-takeover plan considering a threatened coup attempt. At the takeover attempt, the corporation engages a Rights Agent who will issue Rights Certificates to each shareholder.

  • The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Uruguay Round, which ran from 1986 to 1994, saw the formulation of TRIPS. Its incorporation was the fruit of an exhaustive lobbying campaign by the International Intellectual Property Alliance on account of the United States, which was reinforced by the European Union, Japan, and other globalized countries.

  • To download TRIPS UPSC Notes PDF, click here.

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