International Intellectual Property

International Intellectual Property

A Handbook of Contemporary Research

Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series

Edited by Daniel J. Gervais

International Intellectual Property: A Handbook of Contemporary Research provides researchers and practitioners of international intellectual property law with the necessary tools to understand the latest debates in this incredibly dynamic and complex field. The book contains both doctrinal analyses and groundbreaking theoretical research by many of the most recognized leading experts in the field. It offers overviews of the major international instruments, with specific chapters on the Berne and Paris Conventions, the Patent Cooperation treaty and several chapters that discuss parts of the TRIPS Agreement. The book can also be used by students of international intellectual property to obtain useful knowledge of major institutions and instruments, and to gain an understanding of ongoing discussions.

Chapter 8: The limits of patents

Elizabeth F. Judge and Daniel J. Gervais

Subjects: law - academic, intellectual property law, public international law


Intellectual property rights are increasingly subject to skepticism that they indeed function as promised to generate more creativity and innovation in society. The critiques link to such larger movements, such as the access to knowledge movement and the development agenda, and have launched calls for more evidence-based inquiries as to whether society truly gains a net benefit by according these exclusive rights to creators and inventors. Patents raise particularly acute public policy questions, given the potential that the limited term monopoly rights accorded by patent law could negatively impact access to, and wide dissemination of, technology and research tools. There are growing concerns that the patent bargain has been struck too favorably for patentees, and that the uneven balance is growing even more skewed. Critics assert that too many patents are being granted for “inventions” that amount to no more than common knowledge, trivial increments on existing knowledge, and old ideas. In a related concern, many argue that patent rights are expanding to restrict access to the basic building blocks required for research (such as genes and standards). With the advent of the TRIPS Agreement, which links intellectual property with international trade and sets fairly high thresholds for minimum intellectual property rights, there have also been concerns about the significant impact of patents on developing nations and indigenous populations, especially with respect to health- and agriculture-related inventions, and calls to align the international intellectual property system with the human rights regime.

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