What's Wrong With Intellectual Property Rights?: And the Public Interest in Privatizing Our Common Genetic Heritage
Queen's Legal Studies Research Working Paper No. 07-06
72 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2007
Date Written: May 2007
This article offers a critical review of the conceptual understanding of intellectual property rights and deconstructs the phrase, and thereby the ideas underlying it, into its constituent components of intellectual property rights in an effort to disclose how language may obfuscate the instrumentality of these rights as a means of achieving public policy objectives for knowledge generation and the safeguarding of the publics interest to access available knowledge generally. IPRs are cultural artifacts whose scope and limits should be determined by the regulatory governments of each nation state before they are uniformly extended to new subject matter such as life and its genetic building blocks. A significant degree of the human genome has already been privatized by way of letters patent. DNA sequences mapped are not inventive, however they are simply a cartography of that which exists in nature and should not be patentable. Alternative understandings of property rights and a review of the commons literature help us understand the legality of our common genetic heritage and how extending the exclusivity and private property model of the current patent system is not appropriate for genetic information. Alternative incentive models for genomics research ought to be considered and, the author suggests, prevail.
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