Evidence and Experience from Developing Countries
Edited by Sunil Mani and Richard R. Nelson
Chapter 3: TRIPS compliance of national patent regimes and domestic innovative activity: the Indian experience
An important aspect of changes in international governance rules with respect to intellectual property regimes is the passage of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The TRIPS Agreement has been in force since 1995 and is to date the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property (IP). The Agreement introduced global minimum standards for protecting and enforcing nearly all forms of intellectual property rights (IPR), including those for patents. International conventions prior to TRIPS did not specify minimum standards for patents. At the time that negotiations began, over 40 countries in the world did not grant patent protection for pharmaceutical products. The TRIPS Agreement now requires all WTO members, with few exceptions, to adapt their laws to the minimum standards of IPR protection. In addition, the TRIPS Agreement also introduced detailed obligations for the enforcement of intellectual property rights. However, TRIPS also contains provisions that allow a degree of flexibility and sufficient room for countries to accommodate their own patent and intellectual property systems and developmental needs. This means countries have a certain amount of freedom in modifying their regulations, and various options exist for them in formulating their national legislation to ensure a proper balance between the goal of providing incentives for future inventions of new drugs and the goal of affordable access to existing medicines.
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