The Constitutional Property Clause and Immaterial Property Interests

Kellerman, Mikhalien (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2011-03)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The question that this dissertation addresses is which immaterial property interests may be recognised and protected under the constitutional property clause and if so, under which circumstances. The question originated in the First Certification case 1 where the court held that the constitutional property clause is wide enough to include property interests that require protection according to international norms. The traditional immaterial property interests or intellectual property rights (patents, copyright, designs and trademarks) are protected as property in private law on a sui generis basis. Since it is generally accepted that the property concept in constitutional law includes at least property rights protected in private law, it is relatively unproblematic to include intellectual property rights under the constitutional property clause. In Laugh It Off v SAB International,2 the Constitutional Court explicitly balanced the right to a trademark with the right to freedom of expression, which is accepted as authority that at least trademarks may be recognised and protected as constitutional property. The other intellectual property rights may most likely be recognised and protected by analogy. Foreign law as well as international law also indicates that intellectual property should be recognised and protected as constitutional property. However, there are other, unconventional immaterial property interests that are not protected as property in private law. Some are protected in private law, but not as property; others originate in public law; and yet others are not protected yet at all. In terms of the Constitution, South African courts may consider foreign law, but must consider international law. This dissertation determines when these interests may be protected as constitutional property by reference to foreign cases from German, American, Australian and Irish law; regional international law, namely European Union cases; and international law. The conclusion is that unconventional immaterial property interests may generally be protected if they are vested and acquired in terms of normal law, have patrimonial value and serve the general purpose of constitutional property protection. Property theories are also useful to determine when immaterial property interests deserve constitutional protection, although other theories may be more useful for some of the unconventional interests. The German scaling approach and the balancing of competing interests is a useful approach for South African courts to help determine the appropriate level of protection for specific immaterial property interests without excluding some at the outset.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die vraag waarmee hierdie verhandeling handel is of belange in immateriële goedere erken en beskerm kan word in terme van die grondwetlike eiendomsklousule en indien wel, onder watter omstandighede. Die vraag het sy ontstaan in die First Certification saak,3 waar die Grondwetlike Hof beslis het dat die eiendomsklousule se omvang wyd genoeg is om belange in eiendom in te sluit wat volgens internasionale norme beskerming verg. Sekere regte in immateriële goedere word op ’n sui generis basis in die privaatreg beskerm, naamlik die regte in tradisionele immaterieelgoederereg kategorieë of intellektuele eiendom (patente, kopiereg, ontwerpe en handelsmerke). Dit is 'n algemene beginsel van grondwetlike eiendomsreg dat die konsep van eiendom minstens belange insluit wat as eiendom in die privaatreg beskerm word. In Laugh It Off v SAB International4 het die Grondwetlike Hof 'n handelsmerkreg opgeweeg teen die reg op vryheid van uitdrukking en hierdeur implisiet erken dat minstens handelsmerke en dalk ook ander intellektuele eindemsregte deur die eiendomsklousule erken en beskerm kan word. Buitelandse reg sowel as internasionale reg dui aan dat intellektuele eiendom grondwetlike beskerming behoort te ontvang. Buiten hierdie belange is daar ook immaterieelgoederereg belange wat nie onder eiendomsreg beskerm word in die privaatreg nie. Sommige van hierdie belange word wel in die privaatreg beskerm, maar dan onder ander areas van die reg as eiendom; ander het hul oorsprong in die publiekreg; en die res word tans glad nie beskerm nie. Die Grondwet bepaal dat howe buitelandse reg in ag kan neem en dat hulle internasionale reg moet oorweeg. Die verhandeling se vraag word beantwoord met verwysing na sake uit die Duitse, Amerikaanse, Australiese en Ierse grondwetlike reg; streeks-internasionale reg van die Europese Unie; en internasionale reg. Die onkonvensionele immaterieelgoederereg belange kan oor die algemeen beskerm word as eiendom indien daar 'n gevestigde reg is, die reg in terme van gewone reg verkry is en die belang die algemene oogmerke van die grondwetlike klousule bevorder. Die teorieë oor die beskerming van eiendom is van nut om te bepaal watter belange beskerm kan word, alhoewel sekere onkonvensionele belange beter geregverdig kan word deur ander tipes teorieë. Die Duitse metode om belange op te weeg kan van besonderse nut wees vir Suid Afrikaanse howe om te bepaal watter vlak van beskerming spesifieke belange in immaterieelgoedere behoort te geniet.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6536
This item appears in the following collections: