The Precautionary Principle and its Application in the Intellectual Property Context: Towards a Public Domain Impact Assessment

Forthcoming in Teresa Scassa, Mistrale Goudreau, Courtney Doagoo & Madelaine Saginur, Intellectual Property for the 21st Century: Interdisciplinary Approaches (Toronto: Irwin Law)

22 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2013

See all articles by Graham J. Reynolds

Graham J. Reynolds

University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law

Date Written: October 31, 2013

Abstract

This chapter considers whether the precautionary principle - a central element of contemporary environmental law and policy - can be usefully applied in the intellectual property context as a means through which the public domain can be protected. Assuming the importance of the public domain, and arguing that expansions in intellectual property protection risk harming the public domain, this chapter contends that it is appropriate to apply the precautionary principle in the intellectual property context in order to guard against harm to the public domain; suggests several ways in which a precautionary principle (or a precautionary approach) could be applied in the intellectual property context; and considers one possible instantiation of the precautionary principle in the context of intellectual property reform, namely in the form of a Public Domain Impact Assessment (PDIA). Modeled on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the PDIA is envisioned as a process through which proposals for intellectual property reform, prior to their enactment, are evaluated by an independent review panel in order to determine their potential impact on the public domain.

Keywords: copyright, intellectual property, public domain, Canada, environmental law, precautionary principle

Suggested Citation

Reynolds, Graham J., The Precautionary Principle and its Application in the Intellectual Property Context: Towards a Public Domain Impact Assessment (October 31, 2013). Forthcoming in Teresa Scassa, Mistrale Goudreau, Courtney Doagoo & Madelaine Saginur, Intellectual Property for the 21st Century: Interdisciplinary Approaches (Toronto: Irwin Law), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2347922

Graham J. Reynolds (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1
Canada

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