How Trade Deals Extend the Frontiers of International Patent Law

CIGI Paper No. 199

November 20, 2018

Bilateral and regional trade deals frequently include patent provisions that go beyond the minimum requirement of the multilateral Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). They extend the scope of patentability and provide additional rights to patent holders. This paper systematically maps these “TRIPS-plus” agreements. Exploiting a new data set, 52 TRIPS-plus agreements are found to have been concluded between 1990 and 2017. The major proponents of these TRIPS-plus agreements on patents are the United States, followed by the European Union and the European Free Trade Association. Other technology-rich countries, such as Japan and Korea, have surprisingly few TRIPS-plus provisions on patent protection in their trade agreements. Few South-South trade agreements include TRIPS-plus provisions, but some include TRIPS-extra provisions on genetic resources and traditional knowledge. Having a clear picture of these TRIPS-plus agreements is essential as they can have important social and economic consequences, including for the development of innovations and access to technologies.

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About the Authors

Jean-Frédéric Morin is a CIGI senior fellow and an associate professor at Laval University, where he holds the Canada Research Chair in International Political Economy.

Dimitri Thériault holds a master’s degree in international studies from the Institute for Advanced International Studies (Laval University) and a bachelor’s degree in economics and politics from Laval University.
During his studies, Dimitri worked as a research assistant with Jean-Frédéric Morin, Canada Research Chair in International Political Economy. His main role was to provide statistical analysis and charts based on TREND. Currently, he is a briefing officer at Global Affairs Canada.