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3 Things You Didn't Know About IP Protection with the World Trade Organization

By Peter Cohen - October 5, 2018

The World Trade Organization (WTO) ensures basic intellectual property right protection for all WTO members through the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs). Anything from news media and artistic work all the way to computer programs are protected under copyright through the TRIPs agreement. Trademark laws under TRIPs ensures brand protection, so your logo and marketing designs are protected. And if your business revolves around a new technology, whether it be in biotech or a new drone hardware application, a patent under TRIPs will give you the coverage to allow your product to be traded without risk of unlawful replication. These are the basic IP coverages that the TRIPs agreement offers. But did you know that there are some lesser known but equally important elements of TRIPs that could affect your business? Below are three components of trips that often go overlooked. Making TRIPs work to your advantage could give you the peace of mind you need to take your idea across the globe and find the customers or partners that will take it to the next level.

Protecting Sensitive Information

When doing business abroad, it is often necessary to share sensitive information with a business partner. Under TRIPs that information is protected. Whether it is business plans or organizational ideas, undisclosed information is legally bound to be kept within the relationship in which it was entrusted. Research and Development can fall under this protection as well. All product testing and data that is sensitive and needs to be shared is legally required to stay undisclosed by the receiving party.

Delegating the Rights to Your Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer

Through anti-competitive licensing you can allow other parties to use your product without risk of theft. Of course, this law can be overridden by governments if it infringes on technology transfer or unlawfully creates barriers to competition. TRIPs was designed with the symbiotic benefit of technology transfer to less developed countries in mind. So, while the design of your product will be protected, the educational value and use of the technology should be shared with those involved in developing nations. There are also incentives under the policies that promote the contribution to innovative technologies in those countries. While technology transfer is a major component, TRIPs was designed to do everything possible to allow businesses to bring their ideas abroad and make financial gains while increasing development.


Under section III, TRIPs ensures that the WTO member country’s government is required to enforce these basic Intellectual property rights. The agreement provides specific regulations on what falls under its jurisdiction, how it should be enforced, and any steps to be taken if intellectual properties are infringed upon.  Governments are also required at the customs level to combat piracy at ports and trade areas. If governments fail to provide these basic protections for IP, they risk compromising their membership with the WTO.

*Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
*Information for the blog sourced from the WTO