A TRIPs, or Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, agreement is a contract between countries that engage in international trade. The World Trade Organization regulates trade agreements between many nations and establishes rules for the protection of intellectual property rights. Features of a TRIPs agreement protect the work of inventors and provide creators with an incentive to create future works.
A TRIPs agreement removes the necessity for an intellectual property holder to register ownership rights in each nation that signs the treaty. According to the Department of Commerce, members of the World Trade Organization and signatories to the Berne Convention must recognize rights such as patents, copyrights or trademarks if they are validly registered in another nation that has ratified these agreements. This saves the intellectual property holder the time and expense of registering their intellectual property in many different nations. The copyright holder also does not have to provide notice to enforcement agencies in other nations to receive legal protection.
Geographic indicators are a part of TRIPs agreements. For example, French winemakers wish to ensure that only wineries in Champagne can label their wine Champagne. American winemakers in Napa want the right to exclusive use of the Napa wine label. According to the Department of Commerce, a geographic indicator applies to a product when the product has connotations of quality and reputation because of the region where it is manufactured.
Punishment for violation of intellectual property rights is part of a TRIPs agreement. When a nation signs this contract, it assumes the responsibility to punish counterfeiters and other violators of the rights of other nations. According to the United States Treasury, China has a responsibility under the TRIPs agreement to punish large-scale pirating and counterfeiting operations that create fake versions of products which United States companies hold the intellectual rights to produce. The United States is claiming that China does not legislate criminal penalties for copyright infringement, and that this is a violation of the TRIPs agreement.
A TRIPs agreement includes the option of provisional relief. Provisional relief, or a preliminary injunction, allows a court to block the sale of a product without going through the entire judicial process first. For example, an intellectual property holder wants to block the sale of counterfeit goods as soon as possible. According to the Department of Commerce, this includes the ability for law enforcement to seize and destroy suspected counterfeit products without notifying the alleged infringer, preventing the counterfeit goods from reaching the market.
- world trade image by Chad McDermott from Fotolia.com