In addition to its operative provisions, the TRIPs Agreement contains a series of procedural rules aimed at ensuring enforcement of the protection of intellectual property rights.
These provisions refer in general terms to the conditions of judicial and administrative procedures (for instance, availability of «just and equitable» trials with no unjustifiable delays; judicial revision of government decisions; ways to produce evidence and so on) and more specifically to damages compensation, provisional measures, destruction of infringent products and others. Moreover there is an special section in the Agreement on measures to be taken at the border to prevent dispatch of falsified traded goods22.
22 It is noteworthy that the Agreement only obliges to enforce these measures for trademark violations or author rights «piracy», but they are optional to Member states for patents or other rights (article 5).
If a Member considers that another Member is not fulfilling its obligations under the Agreement, it can initiate the mechanism for the settlement of disputes provided for in the «Understanding on the Settlement of Disputes». The new formula for this mechanism ensures that a decision is taken relatively quickly and that any unfavourable verdict is decided upon by «negative consensus»). This means that, for a decision to be rejected by a panel, there must be a consensus to do so; in other words, a decision against a particular country may be adopted because there is no consensus to reject it.
Once the dispute settlement mechanism has been exhausted, the country concerned may apply trade sanctions against the country which is deemed to be infringing. In this manner actions such as those taken under section 301 of the aforementioned United States Act become legitimate, even for sectors other than those affected by non-fulfilment («cross retaliation»), but only after completion of the multilateral procedure.
Lastly, it should be borne in mind that the TRIPs Agreement lays down minimum standards and that, at the same time, no Member country can be obliged to grant «more extensive protection» than required by the Agreement (Article 1). This signifies that any unilateral action on the part of governments requiring a higher standard of protection than that required by the Agreement or the application of trade reprisals on such grounds will clearly be unlawful within the framework of GATT 1994.