Guarding the guards: the practical impact of human rights on protection of innovation and creativity

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paperpeer-review


As technology pushes back frontiers, new horizons and opportunities are opened, particularly through digitisation, medical science and biotechnology.[1] The status quo is questioned, with “[n]ew technologies challeng[ing] old notions as to the regulation of the innovative and creative processes”,[2] and the present legal regime attacked. [3] A focal point of this has been the proper scope and impact of various intellectual property rights (“IP”).

“Human rights” can be raised in this debate: indeed this seems an attractive and easily understood solution. It can appear obvious that “the right to life” should prevail over use of patents to limit access to medical treatment;[4] “the right to information” over use of copyright to limit use of online
material,[5] or over use of copyright and database rights to restrict access to information;[6] and “the right to free speech” over use of trade marks to prevent corporate criticism through “suckssites”.[7] Questions of the proper justification and role of IP, the place of economics and property rights, and international treaty obligations, can appear irrelevant and selfish distractions.[8]

This paper will consider the basis for the relationship between IP and human rights; use which has been made of the relationship to date, focussing largely on case law; [9] synergies in approach against different social, cultural and constitutional backdrops; and the possible needs, opportunities and challenges for the future use of this interface in the field of technology.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2005
Event20th BILETA Conference 2005: Over-Commoditised; Over-Centralised; Over-Observed: The New Digital Legal World? - Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Apr 20057 Apr 2005


Conference20th BILETA Conference 2005
Abbreviated titleBILETA 2005
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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