Looking at the article above, some countries have not ratified the TRIPS agreement, is there a reason to not ratify the treaty? I thought that this agreement was a win-win for both developing and developed countries, but seeing some countries won't ratify it, I am having second thoughts.


TRIPs imposed on the entire world the dominant intellectual property regime in the United States and Europe, as it is today. I believe that the way that intellectual property regime has evolved is not good for the United States and the EU; but even more, I believe it is not in the interest of the developing countries. -- Joseph Stiglitz, Making Globalization Work, §4 (quote from Wikipedia page on TRIPS)

Countries don't ratify TRIPS because of the conditions imposed on them by the agreement

The TRIPS agreement, which as a treaty is binding on those states ratifying it, mandates the imposition of very strong protections for intellectual property. Countries may not want to be forced to adopt these strong measures, and to instead retain control in these areas.

Some relevant examples of provisions (from the TRIPS Wikipedia page and the actual agreement, available here) include:

  • Automatic grants of copyright with no registration required - a country may not want copyright to be automatically granted, especially in combination with the 50 year provision described below.
  • Copyright extends for at least 50 years unless relative to the life of the author ("Whenever the term of protection of a work, ..., is calculated on a basis other than the life of a natural person, such term shall be no less than 50 years...", TRIPS Article 12) - when combined with an automatic copyright grant, this means that someone who creates a copyrightable thing first where others could have done so gets copyright rights for a long period of time, potetially preventing others from effectively using the work in good faith.
  • Limits on exemptions - patent right exemptions are only allowable "provided that such exceptions do not unreasonably conflict with a normal exploitation of the patent and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the patent owner" (TRIPS Article 10) - this means that for the entire 50+ year period, "normal" use of the work is exclusive to the author.

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