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Abstract

The World Trade Organization (WTO) created the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement to monitor and enforce intellectual property rights around the world, to uneven success. There are problems with enforcement in many developing countries, specifically countries in West Africa. By some estimates, for example, the majority of drugs used in those countries are counterfeit, which can lead to serious injury or even death for those using the counterfeit drugs. Stronger IP enforcement not only encourages innovation but can serve to reduce the risk of death of those in developing countries. There are major challenges facing implementation of IP rights in West African countries though. Those include a lack of knowledge or superficial knowledge about IP, lack of understanding of the value of creativity, an understanding of IP law that is limited to copyright law, the degree of poverty combined with the expense of drugs, and the inadequate training of government officials, the legislature, and judges with respect to IP rights. The goal of this article is to suggest some strategies for the implementation and enforcement of the TRIPS Agreement in West Africa, including both what can be done in West African countries as well as developed countries like the United States.

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