Life Sciences, Intellectual Property Regimes and Global Justice

Intellectual property allows inventors to recoup reasonable research and development costs by granting temporary exclusive rights over inventions. Temporary exclusivity comes at a high price for the global poor. Many who urgently need access to vital medicines and agricultural innovations are left empty-handed.

Promovendus Cristian Timmermann
Promotor prof.dr. MJJAA (Michiel) Korthals
Copromotor dr. H (Henk) van den Belt
Organisatie Wageningen University, Philosophy, Wageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS)

vr 1 november 2013 16:00 tot 17:30

Locatie Auditorium, building number 362
Generaal Foulkesweg 1
6703 BG Wageningen

Insufficient access to objects of innovation is however only one of the many problems brought up by intellectual property rights. In a world of extreme inequalities it becomes much more profitable to do research for the appetites of the rich, leaving many problems that affect the global poor unresolved. Intellectual property can also function as a barrier for wider scientific participation: many journal articles are out of reach for researchers from the Global South and patents often hinder follow-up innovation.

The relentless increase in the wealth gap between the rich and the poor is a matter of such deep moral concern, that it obscures the optimism brought by the latest achievements in the life sciences.
Cristian Timmermann

The dissertation analyses how intellectual property rights collide with a number of human rights and notions of global justice, and discusses three alternative proposals to current intellectual property regimes.