ATRIP Intellectual Property series
Edited by Graeme B. Dinwoodie
Chapter 8: Intellectual property and sustainable development: A distributive justice perspective
Since the 2001 World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Doha, development issues have come to the forefront of debate on intellectual property. The need to integrate development objectives into the process of making IP rules and practice was also reflected in the work of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which in 2007 adopted a set of recommendations to enhance the development dimension of the Organization’s activities (the Development Agenda). Seeing as the role of intellectual property rights (IPRs) in the attainment of sustainable development continues to be the subject of great interest, many developing countries perceive IPRs as a tool to foster economic development. It needs to be noted though, that for a long time these rights were conceived as a purely technical tool which contributed to technical development only. Such a view however can no longer be regarded as justified, particularly after the incorporation of intellectual property rights into the WTO legal framework through the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Above all, the preamble to the WTO Agreement states that one of the objectives of this organization is to ensure the ‘use of world’s resources in accordance with the objective of sustainable development’. Secondly, the TRIPS Agreement references the ‘developmental … objectives’ of all member states as well as their ability to ‘adopt measures necessary to protect public health and nutrition, and to promote the public interest in sectors of vital importance to their socio-economic and technological development’ (Art. 8).