Intellectual Property and Human Rights from a Cosmopolitan Liberal Perspective
Chapter 3: International Intellectual Property Law: A First Tool?
INTRODUCTION The aim of this chapter is to determine whether the foundation, structure, and purpose of the existing intellectual property (IP) law system, and especially patent law, assists or hinders the realisation of global distributive justice in health and genetics. I will commence with a brief introduction to intellectual property rights, in particular, patent law and its application to genetics. The second part of this chapter aims to present and provide a succinct analysis of some of the main theoretical foundations brought forward for justifying property rights on intellectual inventions. The third section assesses the patent system in referring to considerations of distribution, equality, and justice. An evaluation of the patent system by reference to the standard of access (global access to resources, availability and affordability of products and services) will be provided in order to establish whether the international patent system can serve the purpose of global distributive justice. INTRODUCTION TO INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY Property rights are used as legal and political tools to help ensure social order, structure, and harmony in communities. They translate the connection between property holders and non-holders into enforceable legal rights. Through this system, objects of property can be viewed as articles that can be traded in the market, providing property owners with some degree of economic power.1 In this sense, property institutions fundamentally shape a 1 C. May, ‘Unacceptable Costs: The Consequences of Making Knowledge Property in a Global Society’ (2002) 16:2 Global Society 123; A. McEvoy, ‘Market and Ethics in United States...
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