Access to Essential Innovation and Technology
Chapter 1: ‘The essence of intellectual property rights is the right to exclude’
Intellectual property rights (IP) can be lauded for their encouragement of investment in and dissemination of innovation, creativity and new product development,2 and for their reward of the innovators and creators.3 Yet IP rights confer power over the underlying technology or material, which has implications for those who wish to use it to achieve social goals, or to advance their own business.4 This power might be argued to be the price which society must pay for the more positive elements of IP; but is this a satisfactory position when IP involves what could be termed ‘essential technologies’ – say a pharmaceutical drug,5 software which is part of a standard for accessible communications6 or for online voting,7 or a means of harnessing and delivering renewable energy?8 Or the products of genetic engineering,9 sets of raw geographical data as recorded in maps,10 a trade mark which has become a cultural icon11 or which enables the control of products once other IP rights have expired?12
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