The intersection of intellectual property and human rights is a relatively new site in the search for balance in intellectual property law and policy. Although this intersection opens up intellectual property to a unique kind of interdisciplinary analysis, only the human rights system appears to have seized the opportunity, while its intellectual property rights counterpart remains reluctant to engage. There are, so far, different competing first impressions over the nature of the intersection between intellectual property and human rights. Despite empirical credence of the conflict narrative, the co-existence or complementary thesis of the intellectual property and human rights interface has greater prospects for a meaningful and balanced rapprochement between the two. This chapter argues for a critical scrutiny of the human rights appeal of intellectual property rights in order to avoid its potential for being hijacked by stronger stakeholders at the expense of their weaker opponents for whom intellectual property rights have strong paradoxical ramifications.
Chidi Oguamanam (LLM, PhD) is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, (Common Law Section) and he is a faculty member of the Centre for Law, Technology and Society and the Environmental Law Group. Professor Oguamanam’s practice and research interests focus on various legal and policy issue-linkages to intellectual property law. He writes, teaches, and consults in the areas of law and technology (including biotechnologies), agricultural knowledge systems, biodiversity and food security; public health law and policy; indigenous peoples, indigenous knowledge; human rights and the global governance of knowledge in development contexts. His most recent book is Intellectual Property in Global Governance: A Development Question (Routledge, 2012).