Intellectual Property, Human Rights and Competition

Intellectual Property, Human Rights and Competition

Access to Essential Innovation and Technology

Abbe E.L. Brown

This detailed book explores the relationship between intellectual property, competition and human rights. It considers the extent to which they can and must be combined by decision makers, and how this approach can foster innovation in key areas for society – such as pharmaceutical drugs, communications software and technology to combat climate change.

Chapter 8: Conclusions

Abbe E.L. Brown

Subjects: development studies, law and development, law - academic, competition and antitrust law, human rights, intellectual property law, law and development, politics and public policy, human rights


Three themes interweave through this book: exploration of the extent to which greater access could be delivered to essential technologies; how the interface between and obligations relating to IP, competition and human rights can and must be combined; and the opportunity for this to be achieved irrespective of the legal starting point. This book began with a discussion of the power of IP owners and the potential for enforcement of their rights to have a negative impact upon the activities of others, in particular in what could be termed essential fields. It noted that valuable practical steps have been taken to address this, for example through the One Lap Top per Child and HINARI projects in which IP owners have been involved;1 it also noted that at international policy level there has been, for example the Doha Declaration and WTO Decision of 2003 and proposed amendment of TRIPS,2 and also some resolutions and General Comments of UN human rights bodies.3 Yet while raising awareness, confirming flexibilities and increasing dialogue, these developments did not alter the core of IP – the right to exclude – nor did they address the very limited references to principles of fairness and abuse in IP instruments. To address this, the book looked beyond IP to elsewhere within the legal framework, to human rights and to competition. These fields were chosen for two reasons: their (likely) more fundamental nature than IP,4 albeit that all three are now part of legislation and treaties

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