Case #1661.0

International Trade Meets Intellectual Property: The Making of the TRIPS Agreement

Publication Date: August 01, 2002
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The focus of international trade negotiations was once quotas and tariffs--how much of a particular product could be imported and the duty levied at the border. As the world economy has experienced deeper integration, attention has shifted away from tariffs and quotas to the complex policies and rules that affect the international movement of goods, services and investment. Such policies include protections for intellectual property rights. Negotiated during the Uruguay Round, the 1994 Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) significantly broadened the reach of the trading regime by establishing a comprehensive set of global trade rules for intellectual property. World Trade Organization (WTO) members are now obliged to adopt policies that protect patents, trademarks, and copyrights. While countries remain free to provide even more protection than the TRIPS requires, the agreement sets minimum standards. These minimum standards represent a significant increase in the constraints on national policy autonomy required by the WTO.

Learning Objective:
The case challenges students to consider whether trade policies should enforce intellectual property rights and examine how this landmark agreement was negotiated.

Other Details

Case Author:
Charan Deveraux
Faculty Lead:
Robert Lawrence and Michael Watkins
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States