SMU Law Review


This article focuses on the complex interactions among scientific productions, intellectual property, and human rights. It begins by outlining the various arguments for or against recognizing patent rights as human rights. It then explores the proper place of intellectual property rights—in particular, patent rights—in the human rights framework for intellectual property. To help facilitate a systematic and holistic study of the framework, this article advances a layered approach to intellectual property and human rights and identifies the framework’s organizing principles and structural layers.

This article further illustrates the proposed layered framework with examples involving four different types of scientific productions: (1) scientific publications; (2) scientific innovations (including inventions); (3) scientific knowledge; and (4) indigenous knowledge, innovations, and practices. The article concludes by exploring whether an alternative human rights basis can be found in the right to own private property—a recurring debate among policymakers, commentators, and intellectual property industries as well as one that has found support in recent human rights developments in Europe.

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