A Handbook on the WTO TRIPS Agreement

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This Handbook describes the historical and legal background to the TRIPS Agreement, its role in the WTO and its institutional framework. It reviews the following areas: general provisions and basic principles; copyright and related rights; trademarks; geographical indications; patents; industrial designs, layout-designs, undisclosed information and anti-competitive practices; enforcement of IPRs; dispute settlement in the context of the TRIPS Agreement; TRIPS and public health; and current TRIPS issues. It contains a guide to TRIPS notifications by WTO members and describes how to access the official documentation relating to the TRIPS Agreement and related issues. Furthermore, it includes the legal texts of the TRIPS Agreement and the relevant provisions of the WIPO conventions referred to in it, as well as subsequent relevant WTO instruments and related non-WTO treaties. The new edition covers the public health revision of the Agreement that entered into force in 2017 and provides updates on other recent developments.




At the heart of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a set of rules that regulate trade between nations: a body of agreements which have been negotiated and signed by governments of most of the world’s trading nations, with the aim of promoting transparency, predictability and nondiscrimination in trading relations. These agreements, covering trade in goods, trade in services and trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights, help to define and inform the multiple roles of the WTO as an international, intergovernmental organization, in administering the provisions of these agreements, providing a forum for trade negotiations, handling trade disputes, monitoring national trade policies, providing technical assistance and capacity building for developing countries, and cooperating with other international organizations. Understanding these agreements and their practical, policy and legal contexts therefore provides significant insights into the WTO as an institution, its activities and international role, its partnerships with other organizations, and the way in which WTO member governments identify and pursue their national interests through this intergovernmental forum.


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