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Intellectual Property Rights as human rights: analysis

sangam tiwari


Intellectual property regimes seek to strike a compromise between artists’ and inventors’ ethical and economic rights, as well as society’s broader interests and wishes. The fact that incentives and rewards for inventors result in societal benefits is a major rationale for patents and copyrights. Within holding paradigms, a person’s right approach to holding takes what is generally an implied balance between inventors’ and creators’ rights, and hence the interests of the greater society, and making it much more explicit and rigorous. The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights is the most important international human rights treaty that addresses these issues. Article 15 states that States Parties, or countries that have ratified or agreed to the current instrument, “recognize the right of everyone” to “enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications” and “to enjoy the protection of the ethical and material interests arising from any scientific, literary, or artistic creation of which he is the author.”

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ redactors has decided to include claims regarding writers’, creators’, and inventors’ intellectual property as a Human Right. Is intellectual property beneficial or damaging to human rights? The goal of this section is to provide solutions by elucidating the potential pitfalls and basic conflicts that exist around intellectual property and human rights.

IP complementing Human rights

In each of the three major human rights statutes, intellectual rights are listed with other rights in a single article. In reality, author and creator protection must be viewed as a fundamental precondition for completing, respecting, and advancing cultural freedom, as well as participation in cultural life and scientific advancement. To put it another way, author and creator rights must assist rather than hinder cultural engagement and scientific access. Furthermore, intellectual property and human rights are essentially complementary in the extent that intellectual property attempts to maintain a balance among both incentives and access. Indeed, balancing positions and interests can reveal an overlap between the two systems.

The difference between IP and Human rights

The international body in charge of monitoring the Universal Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights was uninterested in interpreting intellectual property as a human right. Most intellectual property lawyers, certainly, are more concerned with the commercial component than with ethical and moral concerns. Nonetheless, the current author believes that intellectual property viewed as a human right with an ethical stake is fundamentally different from intellectual property viewed as a business asset. To begin with, the economic part, of intellectual property stresses individualism by compensating an individual for his own effort, providing a guarantee for his costs, or recognizing the production as an extension of an individual’s personality.

The reasoning of the ethical side of human rights, on the other hand, is fundamentally different. The argument based on human rights recognized that authors/creators/inventors might be people, groups, or communities. Intellectual products have intrinsic value as expressions of human dignity and creativity, according to this view. The human rights system is fundamentally different, even if utilitarian proponents enhance their arguments by “fostering the social ideals they postulate at the heart of their claims.” To put it another way, human right’s logic does not reduce a product’s value to a price or a degree of utility.

Second, the essential theme of human rights is the protection of human dignity and the “common good.” Human rights take into account not just the interests of the authors and artists, but also the interests of society as a whole. Some scholars, on the other hand, argue that the economic factor decreases intellectual property rights to the benefit of the owner. However, such an analysis may be oversimplified and reductive. Indeed, “in utilitarian reasoning, the incentive system is centered on promoting the general public benefit, not on putting the individual author as an independent entity entitled to a right.”

If IPR is an obstacle to Human rights?

After seeing how intellectual property rights are only deemed human rights if they enhance other rights, this part will show how intellectual property harms human rights.

Scientific publications are being privatized and reduced at an increasing rate in the scientific realm. To protect their intellectual property, some researchers postpone their publications and keep their data hidden. As a result, rather than serving as a motivator, intellectual property serves as a significant impediment to scientific development. The proliferation of patents and other intellectual property rights for a large number of people will result in a situation where everyone is able to block each other. As a result, intellectual property will have a negative impact on innovation and product availability.

Intellectual property also stands in the way of another human right, which is “the right to health”. For example, patent holders frequently set their prices significantly higher than generics, resulting in a large number of people lacking access to usable and suitable medicine, despite the fact that these people make up the majority of people in developing countries.

Furthermore, the right to nourishment is hampered by the fact that some huge corporations have large patents that grant them a colossal monopoly on crucial plant genomes.

Finally, it appears to be well-judged to end with the notion that intellectual property impedes the essence of human rights. Copyrights, unlike patents and trademarks, are not subjected to any kind of investigation. From this perspective, such automated protection does not imply any moral exclusion. Furthermore, it has been observed that officials in charge of patent delivery frequently fail to uphold their moral responsibilities. Despite the fact that moral and ethical preoccupations constitute the soul of Human Rights, the majority of them believe it is neither necessary nor convenient to address them in a patent examination.


Finally, one would wonder how such benefits can be maintained in a democratic society when they clearly jeopardise our most basic rights. Finally, the intellectual property regime is under fire primarily because it jeopardizes our society’s core Individual Rights.

The particular Rights that are being eroded should be recognized in order to resolve the contradiction between Human Rights and Intellectual Property Rights. In order to ensure compliance with the TRIPS Agreement, Human Rights Organizations need produce particular interpretations of ambiguous Rights (primarily economic, social, and cultural rights). It is also recommended for improved Human Rights protection if a minimum required standard of Human Rights protection is to be retained while achieving any form of Intellectual Property Rights.

Contributed by:– Nidhi Jha, Legal intern at LLL

 copyright lawHuman rightsIntellectual PropertyIntellectual Property RightsIPRLegal NewstrademarkTrademark Infringement

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