| IP and Human Rights

Course Information

  • 2020-21
  • 5-Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.), LL.M.
  • III, V
  • Mar 2021
  • Elective Course

How does this course relate to the programme curriculum – does it develop on a prior course in the programme or is the foundational or standalone course?

Describe how you have approached the course. What have you included/excluded and why? Choice of materials – primary or secondary readings / case law;

Describe your pedagogical method: lectures, Socratic discussion, seminar style discussion, response papers or group work; any field work;

Describe the layout of the course: module structure and sequence;

In recent years, the relationship between intellectual property [“IP”] and human rights [“HR”] has been a much-studied phenomenon. This relationship has become the subject matter of enquiry and contestation in multiple fora: domestic courts, international and domestic law-making bodies and bilateral negotiations amongst countries. The aim of this course will be to examine the theory and praxis of the IP and HR relationship. We will try to unpack the ways in which these two bodies of law interact with each other, analyze the questions that arise when IP law is assessed through an HR lens and investigate pathways for reconciling the [ostensibly] conflicting interests that these two bodies of law seek to advance.

This is an elective course indicated (but not mandated) by the Bar Council of India in its Legal Education Rules 2008. This course builds upon the foundational intellectual property course. It also has an interesting crossover with the ‘DIGITAL COPYRIGHT LAW AND CONSUMER CONCERNS’ course, for instance with respect to the theme of rights of the disabled within copyright law. The approach of the course is that of a synthesis between theory [articles on the relevant thematic issues] and relevant jurisprudence. The reading materials comprise a mix of statutes, international instruments, case laws and secondary readings as identified below. We will draw on comparative experiences where relevant.

The statutory materials primarily include enactments such as the Copyright Act 1957, Patents Act 1970, the Trademarks Act 1999, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The pedagogical method will consist of discussions and class participation based upon assigned readings. The layout of the course involves reading foundational materials in the two bodies of law, followed by a consideration of the way the three main branches of IP law interact with HR law and, finally, an engagement with a set of cross-cutting issues raised by the interaction between these two bodies of law.
Course layout:

The course is divided into the following 4 modules:

Module 1: copyright and human rights.

Module 2: patents and human rights.

Module 3: trademarks and human rights.

Module 4: exploration of cross-cutting themes.