Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Christophe Geiger
Chapter 20: Intellectual property and human rights: Reputation, integrity and the advent of corporate personality rights
The protection of personal reputation is one of the oldest principles recognised by law. Defamation, for example, is a doctrine which goes back to medieval times. Today, individuals may also claim protection for their reputation under human rights law in Europe, as well as under national constitutional law and related causes of action. For example, German law protects aspects of a person’s individual reputation on the basis of the general tort clause under Article 823 of the Civil Code, which in turn is informed by the personality rights under the German constitution. UK law – despite not having recognised a general cause of action based upon a right to one’s personality – has increasingly applied common law actions and principles of equity to provide protection for reputation, privacy or self-determination. The status of the human right to respect for one’s reputation may, however, also be applied vis-à-vis commercial activities. In addition, however, it is accepted that personality rights (including the moral rights under copyright law) are rooted in human rights law, as are the rights for an individual to have his personal honour or reputation respected. This chapter considers the impact of reputation protection across the various intellectual property (IP) disciplines and attempts a distinction between derogatory or defamatory acts affecting reputation (both individual and collective) and criticises, fundamentally, the notion of reputation as a means to create substitute IP rights on the basis of conceptual approaches rooted in human rights law.
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