Negotiators from developed countries pushed hard for the inclusion of the TRIPS Agreement in the WTO set of agreements because it was viewed as a potentially effective method of coercing developing countries to strengthen their protection of intellectual property rights (IPR). We investigate whether the threat of cross-agreement retaliation, which could be authorized in disputes regarding the TRIPS Agreement, is effective in changing countries’ IPR protection regimes. The results from a panel empirical model suggest that both the TRIPS Agreement and the strength of trade ties with developed countries are important determinants of IPR protection, but that the vulnerability to potential trade losses through cross-agreement retaliation is not a uniformly significant determinant across geo-economic regions. We conclude that the threat of trade retaliation is just one important determinant of countries’ institutional protection of IPR.


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