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School of Law

Intellectual property rights and development

Course Code:
Course Not Running 2015/2016
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

This course examines the intellectual property rights regime in its broader environment, with particular emphasis on the situation of developing countries. It endeavours to analyse intellectual property issues in the context of environmental, economic and social development.

The first part of the course introduces the basic concepts underlying the development of intellectual property rights in national and international law, in particular the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, 1994 (TRIPS Agreement). This includes an introduction to the conceptual foundations for intellectual property protection and the basic relevant treaties in the field.

Following this general part, the course analyses intellectual property it its broader social, environmental and economic framework. Topics covered include:

  • agriculture, including the consideration of farmers’ rights and plant breeders rights;
  • medical patents, including in particular issues of access to medicines, the impacts on health and pharmaceutical policies in developing countries and the human right to health;
  • environment;
  • biotechnology, in particular agro-biotechnology and life patenting;
  • traditional knowledge, including sui generis protection.

Case studies in the above-mentioned areas or other areas are also considered. These include in particular the consideration of individual developing countries’ implementation of their obligations under the TRIPS Agreement.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

  • To equip students with a broad understanding of the international intellectual property rights system, the main forms of intellectual property rights and the relevant international institutional framework
  • To provide students with a broad understanding of intellectual property in the context of sustainable development, emphasizing all three dimensions of sustainable development: environmental, economic and social.
  • To equip students with the necessary analytical tools to understand intellectual property in its broader environment, with particular emphasis on the situation of developing countries.

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 50% (5000 words)
  • Unseen written examination: 50%

Suggested reading

  • Philippe Cullet, Intellectual Property Protection and Sustainable Development (New Delhi: Butterworths/Lexis-Nexis, 2005).
  • Graham Dutfield & Uma Suthersanen, Global Intellectual Property Law (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2008).  
  • Daniel Gervais ed., Intellectual Property, Trade and Development – Strategies to Optimize Economic Development in a TRIPS-Plus Era (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
  • Christopher May ed., The Political Economy of Intellectual Property Rights (Cheltenham: Elgar, 2010).
  • Tzen Wong & Graham Dutfield eds, Intellectual Property and Human Development – Current Trends and Future Scenarios (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).