Intellectual Property in the Light of Human Rights

Observing, throughout history, the unfolding of the concepts of authorship and property focused on different spectrums of intellectuality, which intensified with the evolution of systems and technological offerings, but was not limited to them.

The concept of property is observed in the understanding of the Real Rights and the Rights of Things, commonly related to the concept of appropriation of goods attributed to materiality. However, throughout history and the development of the world’s legal structures, it has been observed that the conceptualization of property has been transformed in conjunction with the new demands arising from social evolution, bringing to the contemporary doctrine the need to conduct new investigations concerning the monitoring of such changes in the modern world (OTTONI, 2009).

            In this scenario, we intend to carry out a bibliographical investigation related to the existing intersections between intellectual property and Human Rights, from the analysis of the main works aimed at understanding the developments of Law and Technology in the context of intellectual property. Thus, it is essential to punctuate the historical-legal development of the protection of intellectual property to establish the parameters of application of the Law and the functioning of the jurisdiction to intellectual property in contemporary society (OTTONI, 2009).

With the advances in technology and the consequent integration of electronic devices in the daily lives of modern citizens, it has become imperative to highlight the importance of new concepts and uses of goods that, due to the new context of modernization and technology in constant and expressive advance, are characterized by immateriality offered by the digital world (LEMOS, 2011).

            The intellectuality, resulting from technological advances, has become expressive in the routine of the current society, represented by means of goods that, even based on incorporeality, govern different spheres of everyday life, exemplified by the mass development of technological products, such as software, systems, programs and even objects used for leisure, such as movies, TV shows, books and newspapers (LEMOS, 2005).

            In a historical perspective, the turn of the twentieth century was marked by significant transformations in the field of Law, Science and Technology, resulting from years of social revolutions aimed at monitoring the development of technology and its impacts on the daily life of modern society. Exemplifying such evolution through the industrial mass production developed previously, but that by means of the Industrial Revolution had been accompanied by the offering of accessibility tools of the means of production of the time, resulting from the technologization of the global society in an expressive scale to the historical panorama evidenced in question (MACEDO and BARBOSA, 2000).

In this context of overvaluation of technological development, it became feasible to observe expressive changes in production methods and systems, through the emergence of new paradigms for the use of technology aimed at the development of new forms of knowledge, whether technical or scientific (OTTONI, 2009).

As history goes by, the appearance of production lines aimed at the automation of activities, was observed through the evolution of computer systems and software. Today, it is becoming possible to list the establishment of the need for adequacy of Law and modern legislation, in relation to the new demands provided by the economic and productive order of contemporaneity, to obtain an effective contemplation of the production of new spheres of knowledge (MACEDO and BARBOSA, 2000).

Analysing the theme through an economic bias, there is Science united with Technology, based on the boosting of technical and scientific knowledge, using the facilitation of production methods offered by means of technological development and reorganizing the previously consolidated structures of socioeconomic interests in favour of knowledge. Characterizing, therefore, the supremacy of information and the new problems arising from who owns it, enables the consolidation of the need for legislative adaptation aimed at new forms of knowledge (LEMOS, 2005).

However, it is not only as a result of modern technology that one glimpses the possibility of analysing intellectual property. It can be seen, in this sense, as an object of study since antiquity, in relation to the recurrent existence of human social concern focused on the protection of knowledge and its respective detention. Observing, throughout history, the unfolding of the concepts of authorship and property focused on different spectrums of intellectuality, which intensified with the evolution of systems and technological offerings, but was not limited to them (BRANCO et al, 2011).

Considering Intellectual Property as being the meeting of rights related to immaterial goods resulting from the human intellect, guided by economic value, it becomes feasible to observe the unfolding of the scope of the concept of property aimed at ensuring the ownership of creations and intellectual inventions to scientists, artists and inventors, able to offer their works and creations in order to proceed with the marketing of their innovations, so that a financial return is obtained (BRANCO et al, 2011).

Commonly related to the right of “authority”, intellectual property, over the course of history, has detached itself from the conception focused on merely literary or artistic rights, but determined the extent of its application in an opposable and erga omnes manner, with respect to goods characterized as intellectual (LEMOS, 2005).

            In this context, once the theme concerning intellectual property has been listed as fundamental to the understanding of current legal developments, it is essential to state that, with the development of policies aimed at encouraging and respecting intellectual property, the need to observe international relations regarding the implementation and interpretation of such measures has been emphasized. In order to impact, in turn, contemporary investigations and studies aim at understanding intellectual property and its interface with Human Rights, relationally to important principles of International Law, such as self-determination of States and their respective sovereignties, studied under the bias of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and current doctrine (OTTONI, 2009).


FERREIRA FILHO, Ottoni. A propriedade intelectual na visão da Corte Européia de Direitos Humanos. 2009. 147 f. Dissertação (Mestrado em Direito) – Universidade Católica de Brasília, Brasília, 2009.

LEMOS, Ronaldo. Propriedade Intelectual. 2011. Rio de Janeiro: Editora FGV, 2011.

LEMOS, Ronaldo. Direito, tecnologia e cultura. Rio de Janeiro: Editora FGV, 2005. Licenciado em Creative Commons. Disponível em: br/banco/livro-direito-tecnologia-e-cultura-ronaldo-lemos

MACEDO, MFG., e  BARBOSA, ALF. Patentes, pesquisa & desenvolvimento: um manual de propriedade intelectual [online]. Rio de Janeiro: Editora FIOCRUZ, 2000. 164 p. ISBN 85-85676-78- 7. Disponível em SciELO Books .

BRANCO, Gilberto, et al. Propriedade Intelectual. Curitiba: Aymará, 2011. ISBN 978-85-7841-774-1.

Law student at the Catholic University of Pelotas, with a double-bachelor degree in International Relations, at the International University Center, Brazil. Interested in Technology Law, International Law and Human Rights, being an alumni of the University of Coimbra’s Law School and the University of Porto’s Criminology Licentiate Program, Portugal.

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