This background briefing sets out in plain language the development aspects of intellectual property rules, from the UK government’s perspective. It describes the controversies surrounding intellectual property, lists the potential costs and benefits, outlines research into the 'appropriate level' of intellectual property rules, and discusses issues surrounding TRIPS (in particular access to medicines and biodiversity). The paper emphasises the need to maintain the flexibilities in the TRIPS Agreement, which the government believes allow all countries — including developing countries — to implement domestic intellectual property regimes that take account of their local circumstances.