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 9: Current patent laws cannot claim the backing of human rights

Wendy J. Gordon


Wendy J. Gordon1 1. INTRODUCTION Many of the world’s countries (one exception being the United States) has undertaken a commitment at the level of human rights to protect the interests of persons who author ‘scientific . . . production[s]’.2 This commit- 1 This article is © 2010 by Wendy J. Gordon. Wendy Gordon is the Philip S. Beck Professor of Law at Boston University School of Law in the US. Very significant help toward this article was contributed by Keren Ben Shahar, BU LLM 2007. The initial draft of this chapter, then titled ‘Patent and Human Rights: The Case of the Second to Invent’, was prepared for the conference on The Human Rights Paradox in Intellectual Property Law organized by the Centre for Intellectual Property Law (CIER) at Utrecht University. Professor Gordon presented a revised draft at ‘Tackling Global Health Issues Through Law & Policy’, the Annual Symposium of The American Journal of Law and Medicine (Boston University, 2 February 2008.) She appreciates the feedback of the participants at both conferences. She also thanks Giuseppina D’Agostino, Brook Baker, Willem Grosheide, Mike Meurer, Kevin Outterson, Giovanni Ramello, Rob Sloane and David Sugarman for their helpful comments, and Naomi Baumol and Sarah Kaskel for their excellent research assistance. For general discussion, she thanks Geertrui Van Overwalle, Christopher Ricks, and Bruce Sunstein. 2 Such a right is recognized in a number of international and regional human rights instruments. The most prominent document is the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which recognizes in Article...

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