About Intellectual Property IP Training IP Outreach IP for… IP and... IP in... Patent & Technology Information Trademark Information Industrial Design Information Geographical Indication Information Plant Variety Information (UPOV) IP Laws, Treaties & Judgements IP Resources IP Reports Patent Protection Trademark Protection Industrial Design Protection Geographical Indication Protection Plant Variety Protection (UPOV) IP Dispute Resolution IP Office Business Solutions Paying for IP Services Negotiation & Decision-Making Development Cooperation Innovation Support Public-Private Partnerships The Organization Working with WIPO Accountability Patents Trademarks Industrial Designs Geographical Indications Copyright Trade Secrets WIPO Academy Workshops & Seminars World IP Day WIPO Magazine Raising Awareness Case Studies & Success Stories IP News WIPO Awards Business Universities Indigenous Peoples Judiciaries Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions Economics Gender Equality Global Health Climate Change Competition Policy Sustainable Development Goals Enforcement Frontier Technologies Mobile Applications Sports Tourism PATENTSCOPE Patent Analytics International Patent Classification ARDI – Research for Innovation ASPI – Specialized Patent Information Global Brand Database Madrid Monitor Article 6ter Express Database Nice Classification Vienna Classification Global Design Database International Designs Bulletin Hague Express Database Locarno Classification Lisbon Express Database Global Brand Database for GIs PLUTO Plant Variety Database GENIE Database WIPO-Administered Treaties WIPO Lex - IP Laws, Treaties & Judgments WIPO Standards IP Statistics WIPO Pearl (Terminology) WIPO Publications Country IP Profiles WIPO Knowledge Center WIPO Technology Trends Global Innovation Index World Intellectual Property Report PCT – The International Patent System ePCT Budapest – The International Microorganism Deposit System Madrid – The International Trademark System eMadrid Article 6ter (armorial bearings, flags, state emblems) Hague – The International Design System eHague Lisbon – The International System of Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications eLisbon UPOV PRISMA Mediation Arbitration Expert Determination Domain Name Disputes Centralized Access to Search and Examination (CASE) Digital Access Service (DAS) WIPO Pay Current Account at WIPO WIPO Assemblies Standing Committees Calendar of Meetings WIPO Official Documents Development Agenda Technical Assistance IP Training Institutions COVID-19 Support National IP Strategies Policy & Legislative Advice Cooperation Hub Technology and Innovation Support Centers (TISC) Technology Transfer Inventor Assistance Program WIPO GREEN WIPO's Pat-INFORMED Accessible Books Consortium WIPO for Creators WIPO ALERT Member States Observers Director General Activities by Unit External Offices Job Vacancies Procurement Results & Budget Financial Reporting Oversight

Meaning of Flexibilities

Member states of WIPO administered treaties enjoy an important degree of room for manœuvre in the implementation of their obligations, and experience has been gained through the implementation of all those treaties. Some experts believe that the foundation of the available flexibilities are to be found in the negotiation process of the TRIPS Agreement, where policy autonomy for implementation was agreed by Members, as trade negotiators favored an agreement with a great degree of built-in flexibility.

Moreover, the term “flexibility” is contained in certain provisions such as paragraph 6 of the Preamble of the TRIPS Agreement:

“[...] the special needs of the least-developed country Members in respect of maximum flexibility in the domestic implementation of laws and regulations in order to enable them to create a sound and viable technological base.”

The meaning of the word “flexibility” as used in the Preamble is explained by Article 66.1, which reads:

“In view of the special needs and requirements of least-developed country Members, their economic, financial and administrative constraints, and their need for flexibility to create a viable technological base, such Members shall not be required to apply the provisions of this Agreement, other than Articles 3, 4 and 5, for a period of...”

Nevertheless, in the experts’ view, it was during the negotiation process leading to the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health that the expression “flexibilities” gained widespread use, particularly by trade negotiators, and after the Declaration, this concept became part of the glossary of the IP community.

Much has been said and written about flexibilities, and many different opinions have been expressed, for example, it has been highlighted by experts and policy makers that flexibilities should not be an excuse to avoid compliance with TRIPS obligations, while, on the other hand, attention has been drawn to the fact that flexibilities are not always the solution for problems in the field of intellectual property due, among others, to different economic development levels. This wide range of opinion reflects an essentially political aspect of the concept of flexibilities.

Material on the meaning of flexibilities has been drawn from WIPO document CDIP/5/4 Rev.