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 9: Human rights and international intellectual property law

Hannu Wager and Jayashree Watal


In this chapter we will explore the intersection between human rights and intellectual property (IP) from the perspective of multilateral IP law. We see the IP system as a tool of public policy: generally, it is intended to promote economic, social, and cultural progress by stimulating creative work and technological innovation. It can be used to give effect to and promote values deemed essential from the human rights perspective. The grant of intellectual property rights (IPRs), which are private rights, and which typically operate within a market-based system that allows right holders to license and extract value from their rights, is obviously only one of the means used in the pursuit of these values. Through the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), multilateral IP law has been included as part of the global trading system and international economic governance under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO). We will explore practical ways in which the human rights framework has been or can be used to guide international IP policy. Our discussion of multilateral IP law will focus on the TRIPS Agreement. Like other multilateral IP treaties, it commits its parties to provide non-discriminatory treatment and a certain minimum level of protection, coupled with flexibilities, to right holders from other parties to the agreement. This question of the pursuit of human rights values in the framing of IP law is not new to the international debate.

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