WIPR 15 November 1998
TRIPS AGREEMENT: U.S. OFFICIAL URGES INCLUSION OF WIPO TREATIES IN WTO ACCORD
GENEVA--The World Trade Organization can help improve the global protection of intellectual property by incorporating recently concluded IP agreements within its legal framework, U.S. Ambassador to the WTO Rita Hayes said September 16.
Speaking at a seminar on the WTO's Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) organized by the trade body and the World Intellectual Property Organization, Hayes pointed out that several key WIPO agreements are not covered under TRIPs, which was adopted as part of the 1994 Uruguay Round agreement.
The TRIPs agreement is scheduled to be reviewed by WTO member states starting in 2000. Under TRIPs, WTO members are obliged to enforce minimum standards of protection as set out under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.
The TRIPs agreement also includes additional copyright protection for computer programs, rental rights, and performers' rights, as well as minimum rights for the protection of trademarks.
"Since the TRIPs agreement we have witnessed significant technological developments related to the digital environment, such as the Internet," Hayes told the seminar. "We will have an opportunity to enhance TRIPs by incorporating into the WTO the substantive obligations of the 1996 WIPO copyright treaties, in order to provide better protection for computer software and similar products in the 21st century. ... Finally, with regard to trademarks, we would anticipate incorporation of the WIPO Trademark Law Treaty into TRIPs."
In 1996, members of WIPO concluded a Treaty on Copyright Law and the Treaty on Performances and Phonograms. The former offers new copyright protection for computer programs and compilations of data or other material whose contents constitute intellectual creation, while the latter sets out economic and moral rights for performers and producers of audio productions.
The Trademark Law Treaty concluded in 1994 simplifies and harmonizes national and regional trademark registration procedures in order to make registration systems more user-friendly.
"We might further enhance the TRIPs agreement by incorporating into it the level of protection provided for plant varieties found in existing multilateral agreements," such as UPOV, Hayes said.
Copyright Â© 1998 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., Washington D.C.
World Intellectual Property Report Volume 12 Number 11 Sunday, November 15, 1998