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Abstract

Global intellectual property obligations shape domestic laws and policies. More than twenty years since the first multilateral trade-based intellectual property agreement, critics contend that global intellectual property law prioritizes intellectual property rights over other interests, and profits over people. Faced with international intellectual-property obligations, nations have been forced to justify laws and policies designed to promote human development in areas such as health and education as exceptions to intellectual property protection. This is the result of legal interpretations that treat the objectives of intellectual property protection and human development as inconsistent with one another. Drawing on the objectives of trade law and intellectual property law, this Article argues that human development is a central objective of trade-based intellectual property law and should be duly recognized as such. It is therefore unnecessary to protect human development as an "exception" to a norm of protection.

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