Intellectual Property and Human Rights
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Intellectual Property and Human Rights

A Paradox

Edited by Willem Grosheide

In the modern era where the rise of the knowledge economy is accompanied, if not facilitated, by an ever-expanding use of intellectual property rights, this timely book provides a much needed explanation to the relationship between intellectual property law and human rights law.
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Chapter 7: Intellectual property rights, human rights and the right to health

Duncan Matthews


Duncan Matthews* 1. INTRODUCTION The allocation of rights over intellectual property has significant economic, social and cultural consequences that can affect the enjoyment of human rights.1 In many respects, this statement by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 2001 encapsulates the tensions between intellectual property rights, human rights and the right to health that will be examined in this chapter. These tensions are driven by the manner in which creative works, cultural heritage, and scientific knowledge are turned into property which, subsequently, has significant human rights implications,2 particularly the right to health. Accordingly, this chapter undertakes an analysis of the tensions between intellectual property rights, human rights and the right to health. To achieve this, the chapter is divided into four parts. The first part of the chapter engages with the debate on whether intellectual property rights are * Reader in Intellectual Property Law, Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary, University of London, 67–69 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3JB. Email: The author would like to thank Tina Loverdou of Davenport Lyons Solicitors and Viviana Munoz-Tellez of South Centre for invaluable insights and advice. Any errors or omissions remain the responsibility of the author. 1 Statement by the Committee on Economic and Cultural Rights, Substantive Issues Arising in the Implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Follow-up to the day of general discussion on article 15.1(c), Monday 26 November 2001, Human Rights and Intellectual Property. United...

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