Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) at a multilateral level have their genesis in the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property in 1883 which protected industrial property i.e. Patents and trademarks and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works in 1886 for copyrights and related rights.
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) which began its work in 1967 taking over from the Bureau for the Protection of Intellectual Property that had been working since 1893, is the international agency under the United Nations that administers the work of these conventions.
The WIPO administers many other international conventions on IPRs also. While the IPR Conventions and treaties create the international standards in protection of IPRs which are to be followed by the member countries, substantive trade related disciplines on IPRs under these international conventions have been adopted by reference into the WTO through the TRIPS Agreement.
This means that the Agreement provides rules for trade and investment in ideas and creativity by incorporating standards laid down in certain exact provisions of the major IPR conventions. The WTO provides that “intellectual property” should be protected when trade is involved.
Thus, through the TRIPS, the WTO makes it mandatory for all its member countries to follow basic minimum standards of IPR provided for under TRIPS and bring about a degree of harmonization of domestic laws in this field.