Drawing the line between intellectual property protection and the application of competition laws poses one of the most difficult issues legislators and other public authorities have to face in the field of market regulation. Complicating this task is the distrust that experts in each of these fields have for the application of the others' legal principles to their respective specialties. Quite frequently, IP lawyers consider competition law an instrument of intervention, one that infringes the right holder's entitlements and, thereby, affects the very foundations of intellectual property law. Conversely, antitrust lawyers sometimes criticize IP protection for creating monopoly rights against the interests of consumers.
A similar conflict became apparent at the beginning of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations. The developed world, under the leadership of the U.S., successfully pursued implementation of substantive standards of protection as a trade-related aspect of intellectual property law in order to guarantee better protection of their national right holders abroad. On the other side, developing countries supported a competition law perspective on the trade-related aspects of IP rights. The TRIPS Agreement globalizes the standards of protection for patents, copyrights, trademarks, and other rights, whereas the need of controlling abusive behavior of right holders and restraints of competition in licensing contracts is only taken into account through a confirmation that the application of national competition laws remains lawful.
In recent years, TRIPS has received considerable criticism and high public awareness.