Slouching Towards Development in International Intellectual Property

71 Pages Posted: 7 Jan 2008 Last revised: 5 Dec 2014

See all articles by Denis Borges Barbosa

Denis Borges Barbosa

Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro

Margaret Chon

Seattle University School of Law

Andres Moncayo von Hase

University of Buenos Aires (UBA)


An understanding of intellectual property's classic innovation mandate as only one of many cross-cutting development goals should be well-accepted by now within international intellectual property law and policy, given the pervasiveness of development rhetoric at the WTO, WIPO and other regional and bilateral fora. Yet development "walk" lags behind development "talk" on both international and domestic levels. This article focuses on how intellectual property can promote development, not only through innovation, but also by the promotion of broad-based human development implicitly underpinning global knowledge economies. First, we consider the rapidly evolving relationship of development and trade to intellectual property, and conclude that current approaches to all three of these areas emphasize balanced rules, which means assessments of costs and benefits, preservation of flexibility, and transparency of development impact. To increase this pro-development balance within the current international intellectual property regime, each of us offers a specific proposal. Barbosa proposes three principles of treaty interpretation to maximize the potential of TRIPS articles 7 and 8 as balancing mechanisms within WTO jurisprudence. These include the principles of integration, evolutive interpretation and vectorial interpretation all of which are consistent with a teleological approach to TRIPS as an instrument of development. Chon posits "development" as a key legal term of art throughout the international intellectual property regime via a substantive equality principle; this principle is applied here to the current Development Agenda within WIPO, to link intellectual property and innovation to human development priorities such as education. Finally, Moncayo von Hase advocates for the recognition of emerging rules of customary international law, such as the emerging human right to health, in the context of interpreting related intellectual property obligations; in addition, he argues in favor of maximizing international law principles of non-derogation and freedom of implementation, to maintain national policy space and flexibility for social welfare objectives in the context of post-TRIPS bilateral and regional treaties. By its very structure, this article attempts to demonstrate the thesis that a pro-development balancing "walk" must occur simultaneously within and among all aspects of the international intellectual property regime, the complexity of which is manifest in multiple fora and jurisdictions, globally and domestically.

Keywords: Development, Development Agenda, FTAs, Globalization, Human Rights, Intellectual Property, TRIPS, WIPO, WTO

JEL Classification: F01,F02, F10,I18, K33, O19, O20, O34

Suggested Citation

Borges Barbosa, Denis and Chon, Margaret and Moncayo von Hase, Andres, Slouching Towards Development in International Intellectual Property. Michigan State Law Review, Vol. 2007, No. 1, 2008, Available at SSRN:

Denis Borges Barbosa (Contact Author)

Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro ( email )

Rua do Ouvidor 121/6
Rio de Janeiro RJ 20040-001, 20040=030
+552139707704 (Phone)
+552122639617 (Fax)


Margaret Chon

Seattle University School of Law ( email )

901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall
P.O. Box 222000
Seattle, WA n/a 98122-1090
United States

Andres Moncayo von Hase

University of Buenos Aires (UBA) ( email )

Av. Cordoba 2122
Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires 1120

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