Laurence R. Helfer
This chapter provides an overview of the contested and evolving relationship between the international legal regimes governing human rights and intellectual property (IP). The chapter discusses how, prior to the mid-1990s, human rights and IP existed as distinct legal and policy domains. It then reviews the next five years, which were characterized by a rapid expansion of IP protection in treaties and national laws. Next, it explores the backlashes against that expansion and the growing awareness that strong IP protection could undermine human rights, events that occurred between 2000 to 2010. Lastly, it illustrates recent attempts to codify ceilings on IP protection in multilateral treaties, and the invocation of human rights in IP litigation before national, regional, and international courts and tribunals. The chapter concludes by identifying three aspects of the IP-human rights interface likely to occupy the attention of governments, civil society groups, and scholars in the future.