WTO and India

What is TRIPS Agreement?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Geographical Indication, WTO, TRIPS

Mains level: India and WTO

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.

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.

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.

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.


  • The obligations of the main international agreements of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that already existed before the WTO was created:
  1. Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (patents, industrial designs, etc)
  2. 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.

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.


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