IPR Summer School Seminar Day in Turku: Fundamental Rights and IP
The fourth day of the Summer School, Thursday 8th of June, started very early. The students gathered at Kiasma bus stop at 7 am, and began the 2-hour drive to Turku. We had intended to stop once during the drive but the intended stop happened a little bit earlier than planned due to some complications. Namely, the bus ran out of gas on the highway but we made it to a nearby gas station and were ready to continue shortly.
In Turku, members of the Faculty of Law of the University of Turku welcomed us at the PharmaCity building. We enjoyed some coffee and fruit before hearing the welcoming words from Professor Tuomas Mylly. Professor Mylly introduced the CONST-IP Research Project, which aims to understand interactions of IP, trade treaties, investment treaties and human rights, overall different ways to regulate intellectual property.
We then heard an interesting presentation by Professor Christophe Geiger from the University of Strasbourg about the interactions of human rights and IP in the European perspective. He pointed out how the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has started to apply human rights arguments in IP related cases such as Promusicae (C-275/06), Scarlet Extended (C-70/10) and GS Media (C-160/15). He emphasized the importance of finding a fair balance between the IP owner’s and the IP user’s rights.
Then, Professor Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan from the University of Cambridge talked about linking IP and human rights from an international point of view. He brought our attention to how international investment treaties tend to protect IP owners without any human rights concerns. He outlined how human rights might be used to constrain IPR, and remarked that the primacy of human rights is not dogmatically clear in the international law.
After a lunch break, we heard a presentation by Senior Research Fellow Dhanay Cadillo Chandler from the University of Turku. She talked about IP and right to health, especially form the point of view of corporate social responsibility. She raised our awareness on the problem of making big corporations care about human rights even when the reputation of the brand is not at stake. She also discussed the balance between pharmaceutical patents and access to medicine, and reflected on whether the clinical trial data presented in market authorization process should be publicly available for further research purposes.
Professor Mylly concluded the seminar with a presentation on the unitary patent system in the light of fundamental rights. He gave us an overview of the upcoming unitary patent system and contemplated how the relationship between EPO and CJEU might evolve. He argued that patent unity will effectively exclude CJEU from patent-related decision-making but human rights might provide a means for it to interfere.
After the seminar, we headed with the faculty members to the historical part of Turku, where we had a guided walking tour in the surroundings of the cathedral. Afterwards we had some time to wander about on our own and find some food and drinks before the bus took us back to Helsinki. Overall, the program of the day was very well organized and provided the students with new insights into the world of IPR.
Authors worked as trainees at IPR University Center in summer 2017.