All That Glitters is Not Gold: Intellectual Property or Intellectual Liberty? Part 1

All the glitters is not gold: Intellectual property or intellectual liberty?

Recognising the unavoidable intersection between ethics and intellectual property

Glistering intellectual property: Basic justifications

Intangible and non-rivalrous,⁴ the exclusive legal rights granted over all forms of intellectual output⁵ are collectively known as IP.⁶ As a “legal means to appropriate knowledge,”⁷ IPRs are a “vital and growing part of the global economy.”⁸ The very concept of IP finds itself positioned awkwardly with ethics. For one, IPRs “distort the efficient allocation of resources,”⁹ and require some fundamental justification.¹⁰

Not a mere golden casket

IP structures are driven forcefully by commercial and economic aspirations.²² Its golden casket appeal is bolstered by the perception that these rights are a “central resource for creating wealth.”²³ This is only natural given the marketability of IP, and its lucrative nature of producing income through royalties, licensing fees, and franchise fees. Further, IP is today recognized as viable loan collateral.²⁴

The tension between the establishment of IPRs and human rights

Lessons in IP: Beyond the superficial glean

Pharmaceutical patents — the perennial golden goose

Patents in modern healthcare: The “what”, “why”, and “how”

  1. William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (Washington Square Press, 2003) Act II, Scene VII, lines 69–73.
  2. Incomplete verse; for full verse, see ibid, at lines 69–78.
  3. See David Llewelyn, Invisible Gold in Asia: Creating Wealth Through Intellectual Property (Marshall Cavendish, 2010).Steven Horowitz, “Rethinking Lockean Copyright and Fair Use” 10 Deakin LR 209 (2005) at 211.
  4. Steven Horowitz, “Rethinking Lockean Copyright and Fair Use” 10 Deakin LR 209 (2005) at 211.
  5. Susanna Leong, Intellectual Law of Singapore (Academy Publishing, 2013) at para 01.003.
  6. James and Wells, Intellectual Property Law in New Zealand (Brookers, 2007) at 1.
  7. Laurence Helfer and Greame Austin, Human Rights and Intellectual Property: Mapping the Global Interface (Cambridge University Press, 2011) at 20.
  8. Scott Kieff & Tony Paredes, Perspectives On Commercializing Innovation (Cambridge University Press, 2012) at 1.
  9. Leong, supra n 6.
  10. Chidi Oguamanam, “Beyond Theories: Intellectual Property Dynamics in the Global Knowledge Economy” 9 Wake Forest IP LJ 104 (2009) at 117.
  11. Robin Feldman, “Intellectual Property Wrongs” 18 Stan. JL Bus. & Fin. 250 (2013) at 252.
  12. William Robinson, Law of Patents for Useful Inventions (1890) at 101.
  13. See Edith Penrose, The Economics of the International Patent System (1951).
  14. Ikechi Mgbeoji, Global Biopiracy: Patents, Plants, and Indigenous Knowledge (2006) at 21.
  15. See William Landes & Richard Posner, The Economic Structure of Intellectual Property Law (2003).
  16. See John Locke, Second Treatise of Government (Macpherson, 1980).
  17. Shubha Ghosh, “Duty, Consequences, and Intellectual Property” 10 U. St. Thomas LJ 801 (2013) at 818–819.
  18. Carys Craig, “Locke, Labour and Limiting the Author’s Right: A Warning Against a Lockean Approach to Copyright,” 28 Queens LJ 1 (2002) at 9–10.
  19. Ghosh, supra n 17.
  20. Art 1(2) of the Agreement of Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (1994) (“TRIPS”).
  21. Bruce Schaeffer & Susan Robins, “Valuation of Intangible Assets in Franchise Companies and Multinational Groups: A Current Issue” 27 Franchise LJ 185 (2008) at 185.
  22. Mgbeoji, supra n 14, at 23–25.
  23. Gordon Smith & Russell Parr, Intellectual Property: Valuation, Exploitation, and Infringement Damages (Wiley & Sons, 2005) at 3.
  24. Tan Weizhen, “Singapore firms can now use IP as collateral for bank loans” Today Online (9 April 2014) <> (accessed 10 Oct 2014).
  25. Helfer and Austin, supra n 7, at 77.
  26. Kristen Osenga, “Get the Balance Right!: Squaring Access with Patent Protection” 25 Pac. McGeorge Global Bus. & Dev LJ 309 (2012) at 309–310.
  27. Hugh Breaky, Intellectual Liberty: Natural Rights and Intellectual Property (Ashgate Publishing, 2012) at 135.
  28. Ibid.
  29. Ghosh, supra n 17, at 802.
  30. Leong, supra n 6.
  31. Horowitz, supra n 4, at 209.
  32. See Cynthia Ho, “Patent Breaking or Balancing?: Separating Strands of Fact from Fiction under TRIPS” 34 NCJ Int’l L & Com Reg 371 (2009) at 381.
  33. Helfer and Austin, supra n 7, at 17.
  34. Article 28, TRIPS.
  35. Annabelle Lever, New Frontiers in the Philosophy of Intellectual Property (Cambridge University Press, 2012) at 111.
  36. See David S. Olson, Taking the Utilitarian Basis for Patent Law Seriously: The Case for Restricting Patentable Subject Matter, 82 Temple LR 181 (2009) at 195–196.
  37. Michele Boldrin and David Levin, Against Intellectual Monopoly (Cambridge University Press, 2008) at 212, where it was mentioned that bringing a single new drug to market costs as high as $800 million.
  38. Elizabeth Ng, “Evolving Landscape of Patent Remedies in a Changing Marketplace” [2012] SAcLJ 27 at 637.
  39. Shanker Singham, “Competition Policy and the Stimulation of Innovation: TRIPS and the Interface Between Competition and Patent Protection in the Pharmaceutical Industry, 26 Brooklyn J Int’l L 363 (2000) at 373.
  40. Andrew Pollack, “F.D.A approves a new drug for advanced breast cancer”, The New York Times (22 February 2013).
  41. See Alan Story, The Oxfam “Access to Essential Medicines” Project: Some patent and research and development issues (Oxfam International, Oxford UK 2000).
  42. Ng, supra n 38.
  43. Annex IC of the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO, signed 15th April 1994, entered into force 1 January 1995.
  44. Sarah Joseph, “Pharmaceutical Corporations and Access to Drugs: The “Fourth Wave” of Corporate Human Rights Scrutiny” 25 Hum Rts Q 425 (2003) at 428.
  45. Thomas Pogge, Matthew Rimmer & Kim Rubenstein, Incentives for Global Public Health: Patent Law and Access to Essential Medicines (Cambridge University Press, 2010) at 101–132.
  46. Art 27, TRIPS. See Cynthia Ho, “A New World Order for Addressing Patent Rights and Public Health” 82 Chi-Kent L. Rev. 1469 at 1476.
  47. Xiao Peng, “TRIPS Agreement and public health crisis in developing countries: Problems and solutions” 6 US-China Law Review 32 (2009) at 43.
  48. African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Resolution on Access to Health and Needed Medicines in Africa, ACHPR/Res.141 (XXXXIIII)08 (November 24, 2008), <> (accessed 10 Oct 2014).
  49. Nitya Nanda & Ritu Lodha, “Making Essential Medicines Affordable to the Poor” 20(3) Wis. Int’l LJ 581 (2002) at 581.
  50. Lissett Ferreira, “Access to Affordable HIV/AIDS Drugs: The Human Rights Obligations of Multinational Pharmaceutical Corporations” 71(3) Fordham LR 113 (2002) at 1148–1159.
  51. Heinz Kug, “Politics, and Access to Essential Medicines in Developing Countries”, 36 Pol & Soc’y 207(2008) at 239.
  52. Art. 25, UDHR.
  53. The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, “Healthcare and Global Justice” 2010 SAcLJ 38 at 800
  54. Brigit Toebes, The Right to Health as a Human Right in International Law (1999) at 259.
  55. Siddartha Rao, “Closing the Global Drug Gap: A Pragmatic Approach to the Problem of Access to Medicines” 3 J. Legal Tech. Risk Mgmt. 1 (2008) at 5.
  56. Michael Ilg, “Market Competition in Aid of Humanitarian Concern: Reconsidering Pharmaceutical Competition in Aid of Humanitarian Concern” 9 Chi.-Kent J. Intell. Prop. 149 (2010) at 150–151.
  57. Elizabeth Ng, “Balancing Patents and Access to Medicines” (2009) 21 SAcLJ 47 at 458.
  58. CIPR, Integrating Intellectual Property Rights and Development Policy (2002) at 29 <http://www.ipr> (accessed 12 Oct 2014).
  59. See WIPO Patent Agenda: Options for Development of the International Patent System.
  60. David Barnard, “In the High Court of South Africa, Case №4138/98”, 12 Kennedy Inst. Of Ethics 159 (2002) at 159.
  61. Gregor Adams, Consensus Statement on Anti-retroviral Treatment for AIDS in Poor Countries (March 2001) at 3 < therapy.pdf> (accessed 12 Oct 2014).
  62. Ibid.
  63. Ibid.
  64. See BC Mercurio, “Resolving the Public Health Crisis in the Developing World: Problems and Barriers of Access to Essential Medicines” 5 Northwestern U J Int’l HR 1.
  65. CIPR, supra n 58.
  66. See Ellen Hoen, “TRIPS, Pharmaceutical Patents, and Access to Essential Medicines: A Long Way from Seattle to Doha” 3 CHI.J. INT’L L. 27 (2002) at 29–30.
  67. Bently L and Sherman B, Intellectual Property Law (Oxford University Press, 2009).



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Bruno P.

Bruno P.

Based in Singapore, I am a husband, lawyer, private chef, urban farmer, and a slave to three cats. On a search for greater perspectives.