What is the “public interest” principle?
The principle of "public interest" in intellectual property (IP) law ensures that the interests of both IP rights holders and the public are balanced. IP conventions recognize the need for flexibility in the application of IP rights to achieve public policy objectives, including developmental and technological goals. For example, provisions for compulsory licensing of patents and limitations and exceptions to copyright allow for the protection of the public interest. The TRIPS Agreement acknowledges the developmental and technological objectives of national systems for IP protection and recognizes the need for maximum flexibility for least-developed countries in implementing IP laws and regulations. It also states that the protection and enforcement of IP rights should promote technological innovation and the transfer and dissemination of technology for the benefit of producers and users of technological knowledge in a way that promotes social and economic welfare and a balance of rights and obligations.