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Trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights

Staff research paper

This paper by John Revesz was released on 28 May 1999. The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyse from an economic perspective major issues in the area of intellectual property rights

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A Staff Research Paper by John Revesz of the Trade and Economic Research Branch analyses intellectual property right issues from both domestic and international perspectives. The main focus of attention is the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) that was introduced in 1995 and is administered by the World Trade Organisation.

The paper analyses the economic implications of TRIPS for Australia. Issues examined in the paper include the proposed Innovation Patent for low level inventions, changes to the copyright protection of databases, cablecasting, digital transmissions and computer software, changes to designs legislation, the prohibition of parallel importing and current TRIPS negotiations on biotechnology and geographical indications. The paper also presents statistical estimates of the intellectual property cost content of Australian production and trade.

The analysis builds on previous research into various economic aspects of intellectual property rights by two of the predecessors of the Productivity Commission - the Industry Commission and the Bureau of Industry Economics.

The paper was prepared as an input into the upcoming legislative review of intellectual property rights.

Background information

02 6240 3330

Cover, Copyright, Contents, Preface, Abbreviations, Overview

1 Scope of the paper

2 Description and background of TRIPS
2.1 The history of international agreements
2.2 Enforcement of IPRs
2.3 A summary of changes introduced by TRIPS
2.4 Outstanding issues in TRIPS
2.5 TRIPS and current IPR policy issues in Australia

3 Economic considerations
3.1 The economic rationale of IPRs
3.2 Cross-border spillovers of R&D benefits
3.3 Forms of IPR protection for R&D
3.4 Patent policy issues
3.5 Policy issues concerning industrial designs
3.6 Policy issues concerning copyrights
3.7 The rationale for trade marks
3.8 Parallel importing
3.9 The impact of TRIPS on developing countries

4 Statistical analysis
4.1 Different approaches to quantitative analysis
4.2 The Maskus indices
4.3 Estimated patent content of production and trade
4.4 The economic contribution of copyright protected industries
4.5 Applications and registrations
4.6 A brief overview


A IP law and international agreements
A.1 Intellectual property rights broadly defined
A.2 Patents
A.3 IPR protection of biological innovations
A.4 Industrial designs
A.5 Trade marks
A.6 Geographical indications
A.7 Copyrights and neighbouring rights
A.8 Circuit layout rights
A.9 Protection of undisclosed information

B The Australian Maskus indices

C The patent content in trade

D Trade in copyright material