Major International Instruments concerning Intellectual Property Rights

Intangible assets are becoming increasingly essential in today’s economic landscape. Intellectual property refers to assets that are the outcome of human intellectual creative efforts such as innovation, design, know-how, and artistic creativity. Trademarks, designs, literary works, layout designs, and trade secrets are all examples of intellectual property rights that are legally protected. The volume of intellectual property-related goods and services traded has increased in recent years.

As a result, intellectual property protection is required; otherwise, the trade will be free of distortions. Most underdeveloped countries’ intellectual property protection has always been limited. Some affluent countries also have problematic intellectual property regimes, such as open discrimination against other nations, excessive protection, or systems that are so different from those used by the rest of the world that their administration is discriminatory. This trade distortion needed to be addressed, thus the WTO agreed to build a framework for intellectual property protection. Several treaties were established as a common legal framework for the protection of intellectual property rights. In this article, the major instruments are discussed.

Berne Convention for the protection of Artistic and Literary works.

The Berne Convention, which was adopted in 1886, addresses the protection of works and the rights of their authors. It allows producers such as authors, musicians, poets, artists, and others to determine how, by whom, and on what terms their works are utilised. It is founded on three fundamental principles and includes several rules specifying the minimum level of protection to be provided, as well as exceptional provisions available to developing nations that wish to employ them[i]

The Berne Convention is based on three fundamental principles::

National Treatment

Members of the Berne Union should respect works initially published in any of the united nations, as well as all works by the creator who is a citizen of a Union country, in the same way, that they would safeguard their nationals’ works.

Automatic Protection

The protection provided by the concept of national treatment must be unconditional and not conditional.

Independence of Protection

The Berne Convention’s protection is not dependent on the protection offered in the nation where the creation originated. In some cases, the contracting country may decide to safeguard the work for a period longer than the convention’s minimum. Meanwhile, if the work is no longer protected in the country where it was created, the protection may be revoked.[ii]

In simple terms, The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Berne Convention) is an international copyright agreement that requires Berne signatories, known as the Berne Union, to treat copyrighted works equally. It compels signatory member countries to respect copyrighted literary or creative works in the same way as they recognise their national copyrights.

The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property

The Paris Convention, which was adopted in 1883, covers industrial property in its broadest sense, including patents, trademarks, industrial designs, utility models (a type of “small-scale patent” provided for by some countries’ laws), service marks, trade names (designations under which industrial or commercial activity is carried out), geographical indications (indications of source and appellations of origin), and the repression of unfair competition.[iii]

The substantive provisions of the Convention fall into three main categories: national treatment, right of priority, and common rules.[iv]

National treatment

 Each member country must grant to nationals of other member countries the same safeguards it provides to its nationals for protected intellectual property.

Right of priority

An applicant for patent, trademark, industrial design (design patent in the United States), or utility model (protected) protection in one member country may utilise that application to file subsequent applications for that IP in other member nations. If a later application is filed within six months of the previous application for trademarks and industrial designs, or 12 months of the earlier application for patents and utility models, it is regarded as filed on the same date as the original application.

Common rules

Other standards established by the agreement for certain forms of intellectual property must be followed by member countries.

So, the Paris Convention is an international treaty established in 1883 that requires member countries to implement certain minimal industrial property rights. Industrial property covers the majority of intellectual property (IP), such as patents, trademarks, and trade names, but not copyrights.

TRIPS ( Agreement on the trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights)

The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an international legal agreement between all World Trade Organization member countries (WTO). It defines minimum requirements for national governments to regulate various forms of intellectual property (IP) as they apply to nationals of other WTO member nations. [4] TRIPS was negotiated between 1989 and 1990 at the close of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and is administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO).[v]

The TRIPS Agreement provides substantial intellectual property protection in trade-related regions and is regarded as a completely new framework for intellectual property standards protection. With various specific sections, the TRIPs Pact is the first legal agreement to handle all sectors of intellectual property.[vi]

So, the TRIPS Agreement is a minimum standards agreement that empowers Members to establish more extensive intellectual property protection if they so desire. Members are free to choose the best way to apply the contents of the Agreement within their legal system and practice.


[i] https://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/

[ii]https://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/summary_berne.html#:~:text=%5B1%5D%20Under%20the%20Agreement%20on,party%20to%20the%20Berne%20Convention.

[iii] https://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/paris/

[iv] https://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/paris/summary_paris.html

[v] https://www.e-ir.info/2013/12/23/the-arguments-for-and-against-the-trips-agreement/

[vi] https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/tif_e/agrm7_e.htm

Aishwarya Says:

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