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Who Should Bear the TRIPS Enforcement Cost?

South Centre | January 2008

South Centre Policy Brief No. 12


The TRIPS Agreement adopted in 1995 provides an array of trade-related rules on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. It is fair to say that many of those TRIPS rules have been reflected in the national legislations of the WTO Members, but the fact remains that developing countries are under increasing pressures from the developed countries to do more to improve the enforcement of their IPRs and to build up the institutions of IP enforcement. Some felt that such demands from the IP holders or western governments have gone beyond what the TRIPS Agreement requires, and therefore constitute TRIPS-plus requirements. So we have witnessed the phenomenon that some developing countries are forced to spend more and more resources on efforts related to enhancing the enforcement of intellectual property rights. This malady has come into light when the level of compliance, primarily through enforcement of private property rights, is governed by certain binding international obligations without formal understanding of compliance costs and the need for creating a balance featuring optimal level of compliance.

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