Peter K. Yu *
Written in celebration of the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this article calls for greater methodological engagement to refine existing human rights approaches to intellectual property and to devise new approaches to advance the promotion and protection of human rights in the intellectual property area. This article begins by briefly recapturing the past two decades of scholarship on intellectual property and human rights. It documents the progress scholars have made in this intersectional area. The article then draws on the latest research on human rights methods and methodology to explore whether and how we can take the academic discourse to the next level. It highlights three dominant research methods that have been used in this intersectional area: comparative methods, quantitative assessments, and contextual analyses. The second half of this article identifies the contributions a robust discourse on intellectual property and human rights can make to the future development of the intellectual property regime, the human rights regime, and the interface between these two regimes. Responding to critics and skeptics in the intellectual property field, the article concludes by explaining why human rights discussions in the intellectual property area will provide important benefits to the future development of the intellectual property regime, especially in relation to developing countries.
* Copyright © 2019 Peter K. Yu. Professor of Law, Professor of Communication, and Director, Center for Law and Intellectual Property, Texas A&M University. This article benefited from discussions with the participants of a number of events at which the author explored issues at the intersection of intellectual property and human rights, including the Annual Meeting of the Norwegian Copyright Society in Oslo, Norway, the Third Business and Human Rights Scholars Conference at Santa Clara University School of Law, the “Global Genes, Local Concerns” Symposium at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, a workshop organized by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development in Geneva, Switzerland, the 4th International Intellectual Property Scholars Roundtable at Duke University Law School, the International Law Weekend 2014 at Fordham University School of Law, the Workshop on “Patent Regimes and the Right to Science and Culture” at Yale Law School, and the “Intellectual Property and Human Rights” Conference at American University Washington College of Law. The author is grateful to the participants of these events for their valuable comments and suggestions