involves bringing their laws on copyright, patents, trademarks and other areas of
intellectual property into line with the agreement, and providing for effective
enforcement of these laws in order to deal with piracy, counterfeit goods and other forms
of intellectual property infringements.
The Directors General of the
two organizations, Mr Renato Ruggiero of the WTO and Dr Kamil Idris of WIPO, are sending
joint communications to the ministers of each of the developing countries concerned to
inform them of the initiative. The communication will underscore the two
organizations commitment to help developing countries comply with the TRIPS
Agreement on time.
The aim is
for WIPO and the WTO, together with the countries requesting assistance, and (where
appropriate) donor countries, to maximize use of available resources in the coming
critical period by improved planning and coordination of technical cooperation activities.
The forms of
technical cooperation that are available include assistance in preparing legislation,
training, institution-building, and modernizing intellectual property systems and
The task of
conforming with the TRIPS Agreement is seen as a challenge for developing countries
because of the complexities of intellectual property laws and their enforcement. But it
also provides an opportunity to use intellectual property protection to accelerate
economic, social and cultural development.
At the same
time, the two organizations stress that assistance given to other countriesin
particular least developed countries, which do not have to meet the year-2000
deadlinewill not suffer. The WTO and WIPO renew their commitment to continue to
provide technical cooperation to these countries.
initiative will build on the existing cooperation between the two organizations, which has
been established since the signing of the WIPO-WTO Agreement in 1995. This provides, among
other things, for cooperation in providing legal technical assistance and technical
cooperation related to the TRIPS Agreement for developing country members of either of the
132-member WTO came into being on 1 January 1995, at the same time as the TRIPS and other
WTO agreements. Developed countries had to conform with the TRIPS provisions by
1 January 1996. Developing countries are given an extra four years, until 1 January
2000, to comply. Least developed countries have a longer transition period that lasts, in
general, until 1 January 2006.
WTOs TRIPS Agreement specifies minimum standards of protection for each of the main
categories of intellectual property, building on the main WIPO conventions. It also deals
with the effective enforcement of intellectual property rights.
has 171 members, is responsible for international cooperation in promoting intellectual
property protection around the world. In particular, it looks after various international
conventions, such as the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property
(patents, industrial designs, etc) and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary
and Artistic Works (copyright).
This press release is being
issued simultaneously by WIPO.
more background information, visit the two organizations websites: www.wto.org and www.wipo.int