Research Handbook on Human Rights and Intellectual Property
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Research Handbook on Human Rights and Intellectual Property

Edited by Christophe Geiger

Research Handbook on Human Rights and Intellectual Property is a comprehensive reference work on the intersection of human rights and intellectual property law. Resulting from a field-specific expertise of over 40 scholars and professionals of world renown, the book explores the practical and doctrinal implications of human rights on intellectual property law and jurisprudence. In particular, the chapters scrutinize issues related to interactions among and between norms of different legal families, the role of human rights in development of the balanced intellectual property legal framework, standing case-law of national and regional courts and intellectual property offices reconciling overlapping rights and obligations, and identify the practical significance of different human rights for the exercise of intellectual property rights.
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Chapter 2: Human rights and balancing: The principle of proportionality

Jonas Christoffersen


The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has over the last 50 years developed the principle of proportionality into an indispensable tool to balance conflicting interests and adjudicate disputes placed before it. Proportionality cannot be viewed as a simple formulae that can be readily applied to solve complex political and legal questions. Proportionality is undeniably a complex matter that needs to be thoroughly analysed and comprehended to properly understand the role of human rights – and also how it affects intellectual property rights. The principle of proportionality is an independent means of interpretation developed alongside other canons of construction. Proportionality is often considered in the context of limitations of rights,but the principle of proportionality is applied far beyond the confines of limitation clauses, and proportionality is not merely a test of the legitimacy of interferences in human rights. The proportionality principle is generally used to delimit the substantive content of rights and as Torkel Opsahl has rightly observed in the context of the Universal Declaration: To define a right is in fact at the same time to limit it: It excludes what it does not cover. What is positively described as its contents indicates its limits. However, limitations are expressed in other ways as well, familiar to anyone with some experience of legal texts. Many alternatives exist, explicitly described as limitations, restrictions, exceptions or in terms such as shall, however, not include. The logic is often the same, whatever drafting is adopted.

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