Developing countries, in particular, see technology transfer as part of the bargain in which they have agreed to protect intellectual property rights. The TRIPS Agreement aims to achieve the transfer and dissemination of technology as part of its objectives, and specifically requires developed country members to provide incentives for their companies to promote the transfer of technology to least-developed countries.
Article 7 (“Objectives”) of the TRIPS Agreement states 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, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations.
The obligation for developed countries to provide incentives for technology transfer is in Article 66.2. Least-developed countries want this requirement to be made more effective. In Doha in November 2001, ministers agreed that the TRIPS Council would “put in place a mechanism for ensuring the monitoring and full implementation of the obligations”. The Council adopted a decision ( IP/C/28) setting up this mechanism in February 2003. It details the information developed countries are to supply by the end of each year on how their incentives are functioning in practice.
This decision is being implemented, and was reviewed in full when the TRIPS Council met in November 2003. Since then, developed country members have submitted new reports every third year and updates of these reports in the intervening years.
At the same time, various decisions under the TRIPS Agreement have raised the question of technology transfer and reiterated the commitment to implement Article 66.2, such as the 2003 and 2005 decisions on TRIPS and Public Health.
Additionally, climate change negotiators have been discussing the link between technology transfer and the TRIPS Agreement. Read more about climate change and TRIPS.