At the end of last month, hundreds of scholars, academics, and activists gathered in Washington, D.C. at the Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest. Emerging from three days of intense discussion and debate, the Washington Declaration expresses the participants’ conclusions and calls for a path forward on ensuring that intellectual property law and policy reflects the interests of all.
Here at PK, we’re reminded daily of the ways in which copyright and trademark can often run up against principles of free speech, privacy, due process, and even the artists and creators it’s designed to benefit. But patents, trademarks, and other forms of IP can also, if misapplied, act to stifle vital research, reduce access to lifesaving medicines, or move educational opportunities out of reach.
The Washington Declaration represents a broad consensus that this shouldn’t happen. In summary, it calls for making sure that IP exists within a framework that recognizes the importance of privacy, freedom of expression, and other human rights, as well as basic principles of consumer protection and competition. It calls for safeguarding of openness and the public domain, strong limitations and exceptions to IP to protect fundamental values, legal and financial support for cultural creativity, a check on excessive enforcement, and promoting a development agenda for IP.
If these sound like principles you can support (they do to us), you can add your name to the list of users, activists, academics, students, consumers, and others here.