Il 17.05.2018

Intellectual Property Rights and Human rights: Economic and policy challenges


Does the appropriation of knowledge through Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) generate detrimental impacts on the economy and society? Under what conditions is this more likely to occur, and what are the policy challenges ahead to address these impacts? An ongoing stream of research has suggested that, in several contexts, the monopoly rents originated by IPRs may restrict access to useful knowledge and breakthrough innovations that can change or improve the lives of many. Because of IPRs, a significant share of the world population (often located in developing countries) may not be able to benefit from companies’ frontier scientific discoveries or technological advancements. For instance, IPR may hamper access to HIV and other life-saving treatments, or prevent indigenous communities and poor farmers from using seeds once they are patented.

These and similar issues pose a number of policy challenges, which need to be addressed to ensure that the configuration of the worldwide IPR does not undermine the fulfilment of fundamental human rights for some constituencies, and avoid clashes in the enjoyment of rights. Because IPRs are often controlled by innovative and highly reputable global players, making bold claims about their ethical standards, it is impellent to understand the nature of the emerging tensions between the exploitation of IPRs and the respect of fundamental rights. Research in this domain is scant and largely confined to law scholarship.

The aim of this workshop is to address this neglect in the economics and management literatures, also welcoming contributions from other scientific fields. Topics of interest include:

  • The foundation of IPR: do IPR work as genuine property rights or are they just monopoly rents restricting access to knowledge and inventive activities?
  • IPR protection on issues such as access to knowledge outputs, to data, to health treatment, to learn, to equipment and protection of the right to education, health,  and democratic access to cultural and scientific outputs;
  • IPR and access to seeds in agricultural production and access to food;
  • Appropriation of indigenous knowledge by IPR and the principle of no arbitrary deprivation of property,

Theoretical, empirical (both quantitative and case-based), and policy-oriented papers alike are welcomed.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers and Discussants

David Levine, European University Institute, Fiesole, Italy.

Margaret Kyle, (Cerna) Mines ParisTech, Paris, France.

The keynote speech by David Levine will be in the form of a panel discussion, with Peter Howitt (Brown University) as a discussant.

Submission of Abstracts

We have very limited space for paper presentations. Scholars who wish to present a paper at the workshop are invited to submit an extended abstract or a full paper to the email no later than April 15th, 2018.

All submissions will be peer reviewed. A selection based on quality, novelty and relation to the workshop theme will take place to guarantee a high quality small-scaled event. The workshop is committed to ensure gender balance. By April 20th, 2018 authors will be notified whether their paper is accepted for presentation at the workshop.

Depending on the quality of papers submitted to the workshop, the scientific commitee will consider developing a proposal for a Special Issue in Research Policy. Note that we cannot guarantee acceptance of the Special Issue proposal, nor publication of the workshop papers in case the proposal is accepted by the Journal.

Registration & Registration Fee

There are no conference fees. Participants are expected to cover their travel and accommodation expenses.

As the workshop intends to build a network in this research area, participation is welcome even without paper contributions. Participants should register by writing to

Important Dates

Extended abstract and/or paper submissions: April 15th 2018;
Notice of acceptance: April 20th 2018

Scientific Committee

Elisa Giuliani, REMARC, University of Pisa, Italy.
Arianna Martinelli, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy
Alessandro Nuvolari, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy.

Info and contacts

For more information, please contact:
Other contacts: Elisa Giuliani (; Arianna Martinelli (

Sponsoring Organization

This event is funded by the University of Pisa, co-funded by the Institute of Economics, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna.

See also:  



Il 17.05.2018

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