Evaluating effects of world trade agreements on intellectual property rights


With the ending of the transition period for developing countries, the enforcement procedures against IPR violators will be more actively enforced. This will increase the market share and price for IPR holders' products. European IPR holders are likely, therefore, to increase their production levels and exports. The greater protection of IPRs may also stimulate investment flows to countries where intellectual property protection is enforced. The extension of the UPOV, which recognises plant variety rights as intellectual property rights, to TRIPS would be an additional economic benefit to EU businesses.

A further strengthening of the international rules framework for intellectual property rights would further enhance the economic gains to European businesses with IPRs. Certain industries can be expected to gain significantly. These include producers of geographical indications products, mainly regional or local food products, biotechnology products, and pharmaceuticals.

The economic impact differs between countries and can be positive and negative. Some developing countries are engaged on the production of imitation products, which create employment opportunities, and lower prices to consumers. Alternatively, access to technology and investment may be constrained by weak protection of foreign IPRs. Adverse social, environmental and economic impacts may be caused by the current exclusion of animal and plant IPRs from the TRIPS agreement, which can be detrimental to traditional breeders' interests. Developing countries may benefit, however, in terms of biodiversity preservation and food security, from the exclusion of patents for plant varieties from the TRIPS provisions. The patenting of medicines and drugs have adverse social impacts in developing countries if low-income consumers are unable to access these products because of pricing policy by patent-holders (e.g. the current dispute between South Africa and the USA regarding the price of drugs for treating AIDS).


Proponents of international protection for intellectual property rights argue that protection stimulates the flow of investment and trade in goods and services, and is needed to encourage R&D investment. For the EU, greater compliance with TRIPS in non-EU countries would yield economic benefits, associated with the increased income flows to the producers of IPRs.

Facilitated by:
Technological forecasting
Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions