International intellectual property (IP) protection is hard to come by. There are no international trade laws that assure that trademarks, copyrights, and other IP protections carry over from the United States to other countries such as Japan for instance. This can leave many businesses feeling like they have to abandon the idea of tackling foreign markets if they can’t understand the foreign country’s IP protection systems.

Despite having no legal protections, multiple countries have set up agreements and programs to help international trade and file for international IP protection. These agreements help streamline the process and create a system for which services – such as those offered by Emerson Thomson Bennett – can file for international IP protections on behalf of business owners around the world. One of the biggest and most important is the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). 

This agreement, also known as the TRIPS Agreement, is an international agreement that was established by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1994. It sets out minimum standards for IP regulation and enforcement among its member countries. The foreign counsel attorneys at Emerson Thomson Bennett explain how this can help you.

What is the World Trade Organization?

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization that deals with the global rules of trade between nations. It was established in 1995 and currently has 164 member countries. The primary function of the organization is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably, and freely as possible.

What is the TRIPS Agreement?

The TRIPS Agreement was created as a response to the growing importance of IP in international trade. It aims to ensure that all WTO member countries have a fair and transparent system for protecting and enforcing IP rights, including copyrights, patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and geographical indications.

TRIPS covers various forms of IP and details standards for their protection and enforcement. The agreement suggests standardized requirements for registration, duration, and legal remedies in case of infringement. 

Who Adheres to the TRIPS Agreement?

Currently, there are 164 member countries of the WTO, and all of them have agreed to the TRIPS Agreement. This means that they will comply with its standards and obligations to the best of their ability regarding international IP protection and enforcement.

While the vast majority of countries have agreed to the TRIPS Agreement, there are still several nations that have not. Prominent among these are Iran, North Korea, Eritrea, and South Sudan. These countries have yet to join the WTO and, subsequently, the TRIPS Agreement.

International IP Protections offered by TRIPS Agreement

One of the main objectives of TRIPS is to provide a basis for high levels of IP protection that works for all member countries. Some key protections and issues covered by this agreement include:

  • Minimum standards for protecting and enforcing various forms of IP. This ensures that companies and individuals are protected from infringement in foreign markets.
  • Rules for dispute settlement and trade sanctions for countries that do not comply with the TRIPS standards. This way, companies and countries are not left at a disadvantage when one country refuses to work with WTO member countries.
  • Special provisions for developing countries to protect public health and promote access to essential medicines at affordable prices. This stops countries in richer foreign countries from taking advantage of people in developing countries. This mostly affects patents more so than copyrights and trade secrets.
  • Promotes fair competition by prohibiting anti-competitive practices such as abuse of IP rights or agreements that restrict competition. 
  • Encourages the sharing of technology between developed and developing countries. The goal is to help foster innovation and economic growth.

What Does the TRIPS Agreement Not Cover?

While the TRIPS Agreement provides a comprehensive framework for most international IP protections, it does not cover all forms of IP. For example, traditional knowledge and folklore are not protected under the agreement. These are commonly considered to be a part of the public domain.

Contact the Foreign Counsel Lawyers at ETB Law For Help

The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights is a crucial international agreement that helps promote fair trade and encourages innovation through strong IP protection. Setting out minimum standards for IP regulation and how to enforce them helps to create a level playing field for companies and individuals in the global marketplace.

If you need help acquiring international IP protections for your business’s IP, contact the foreign counsel attorneys at Emerson Thomson Bennett. With the TRIPS Agreement and our international connections, we can help you get the international IP protections you need.



We provide complete intellectual property representation to business owners, inventors and artists in all matters related to the establishment and protection of domestic and international patents, trademarks and copyrights. Attorneys at our firm also serve as in-house IP counsel for companies whose needs do not call for a full-time internal position.


"*" indicates required fields

How would you like to be contacted?*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.