Corporate control of intellectual property for wealth maximisation: Prospects for stakeholders’ protection within corporate law

Author Nojeem Amodu

ISSN: 2521-2591
Affiliations: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Cape Town
Source: South African Intellectual Property Law Journal, 2020, p. 13 – 34


Corporate interests have dictated globalised protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRs). Corporations have not only controlled IPRs as exclusive private properties, gotten IPRs strengthened as trade-related in the World Trade Organisation’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), but have also laid property-based human rights protection claims to IPRs. While IPRs controlled by businesses have largely enhanced shareholder value, they have also engendered corporate abuses with negative impacts on competing interests of other corporate stakeholders, including the employees, contractors and consumers. This paper interrogates the extent to which such stakeholders are (or can be) protected within the IP law and corporate law framework. It provides specific instances of corporate abuses of IPRs, highlighting attendant injuries to relevant stakeholder interests. Following the identification of a few remedies available within the IP law system, the paper examines not only current possible safeguards at corporate law but also proposes new and complementary roles corporate law may play towards the protection of victim stakeholders from asocial control of IPRs using the corporate form.