- Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883)
The Convention applies to industrial property in the widest sense, including patents, marks, industrial designs, utility models (a kind of “small patent” provided for by the laws of some countries), trade names (designations under which an industrial or commercial activity is carried on), geographical indications (indications of source and appellations of origin) and the repression of unfair competition.
The substantive provisions of the Convention fall into three main categories: national treatment, right of priority, common rules.
- Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
It establishes minimum levels of protection that each government has to give to the intellectual property of fellow WTO members. In doing so, it strikes a balance between the long term benefits and possible short term costs to society. Society benefits in the long term when intellectual property protection encourages creation and invention, especially when the period of protection expires and the creations and inventions enter the public domain. Governments are allowed to reduce any short term costs through various exceptions, for example to tackle public health problems. And, when there are trade disputes over intellectual property rights, the WTO’s dispute settlement system is now available.
The agreement covers five broad issues:
- how basic principles of the trading system and other international intellectual property agreements should be applied.
- how to give adequate protection to intellectual property rights.
- how countries should enforce those rights adequately in their own territories.
- how to settle disputes on intellectual property between members of the WTO.
- special transitional arrangements during the period when the new system is being introduced.