Access Versus Incentives: Analyzing Intellectual Property Policies in Four UN Specialized Agencies by Emphasizing the Role of WIPO and Human Rights
Hans Morten Haugen
VID Specialized University
October 10, 2011
Journal of World Intellectual Property, Vol. 13, No. 6, pp. 697-728, 2010
Concerns have been expressed over the role of WIPO in influencing the intellectual property policies of other specialized agencies of the United Nations. This article reviews the policies of FAO, WHO and UNESCO, in addition to WIPO itself, and finds very interesting patterns of cooperation. While intellectual property law is primarily concerned with providing incentives for the production of new, creative and applicable arts and knowledge, human rights law is primarily concerned with providing improved access to goods crucial for human well-being and survival. WIPO itself has expressed in some of its documents concerns about the issue of access, and has shown some understanding of human rights concerns in this regard. While UNESCO has paid less attention to intellectual property rights over the last decades, rather emphasizing cultural preservation, both FAO and WHO have increased their focus on intellectual property rights. The latter two increase their cooperation with WIPO, but without a formal agreement with WIPO. The article finds that WIPO, as a specialized agency, has to cooperate with specialized agencies, and there is no reason to believe that the cooperation will be in the form of a ‘one-way’ process in which WIPO instructs the other agencies. At the same time, if the emphasis on incentives in effect undermines the real access to the crucial goods, a new balance has to be found.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 12
Keywords: patent rights, WIPO, FAO, WHO, UNESCO
JEL Classification: H41, K33, O34
Date posted: October 11, 2011 ; Last revised: November 20, 2013
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