Innovation policy and the TRIPS Agreement

A balanced and effective intellectual property system is recognized as an integral element of the policy framework that supports innovation. The role of intellectual property (IP) rights in enabling and promoting innovation, and in facilitating the dissemination of the outcomes of innovative activities, is widely debated internationally and domestically, and is the subject of active policy consideration in many countries. The TRIPS Agreement recognizes the significance of the IP system for innovation, providing (in Article 7) that the “protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights should contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology”.

Recent years have seen a series of discussions in the WTO TRIPS Council on different aspects of the interplay between the intellectual property system and the policy and practice of innovation, discussions which have covered a wide range of national experiences in developing and applying innovation policy and the related use of the intellectual property system as a means to promote such policies. The following extracts from the TRIPS Council’s meeting records provide convenient access to material on the specific aspects of intellectual property and innovation that have been addressed by WTO members in these Council discussions: