Are there international obligations to provide effective mechanisms for the enforcement of intellectual property rights?
Generally, the determination of administrative structures and legal procedures for IP enforcement is in the hands of national authorities. In this regard, considerable activities aimed at improving the necessary infrastructure can be noted in many countries around the globe, reflecting the growing importance of IP enforcement.
However, also on the international level, there exist a number of important multilateral instruments which address IP enforcement. Examples of these can be found in various WIPO-administered treaties, and in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
Enforcement Provisions in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) contains the most comprehensive set of rules devoted to the enforcement of intellectual property rights on the international level (Part III). This part of the TRIPS Agreement sets minimum standards for effective IP enforcement procedures. These procedures include elements of civil and administrative remedies, such as injunctions, damages, evidence, right of information, and provisional measures. In addition, Part III establishes special requirements related to border measures and criminal procedures.
The TRIPS Council of the World Trade Organization reviews and monitors the IP including the enforcement systems of its Member States. If a Member State of the Agreement does not comply with its obligations under the TRIPS Agreement, the dispute settlement mechanism elaborated and applied by the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding is available. The dispute settlement mechanism provides inter alia for sanctions in cases of non-compliance with decisions by the competent dispute settlement bodies.
For more information on the interrelation between the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement and the respective provisions in WIPO-administered treaties, see comments in the brochure entitled " Implications of the TRIPS Agreement on Treaties administered by WIPO".