Overkill or opportunity? Four IP titles from OUP

Oxford University Press is now publishing no fewer than four titles on intellectual property law. Is this commercial suicide or genuine prudence? The IPKat thinks it's the latter. If you run a bakery and make your money selling cakes, it makes sense to offer a selection of different products -- even though to an economist they may appear to be substitutable for one another -- because the taste of one customer may not be that of another. Likewise, clothes shops must offer a degree of choice that matches the physical needs as well as the fashion preferences of its patrons.

This message is equally important for publishers. The relationship of a reader with a book is more intimate than that of a consumer with his cakes or a customer buying clothes. This is because, while the joys of a cake are fleeting, and clothes wear out or become otherwise unfit for service, the law book imparts something of its content, and of its author's thoughts, that may remain with the reader forever. Old cakes are jettisoned if uneaten; unfashionable clothes are taken to the jumble sale or charity shop, or turned into rags for polishing shoes or cars -- but books are so often lovingly cherished and stored for years before they are even opened, then preserved and stored after they have been read. The point is this: a book and its reader must have an enriching relationship, and what is congenial to one reader is anathema to another. That it is why it is so wise of OUP to offer such a wide selection of current IP titles: love one, loathe another, but OUP will service your every need.

The four books listed below are not in any sense being reviewed by the IPKat, who is a little too close to the authors, the publisher and the market to be able to sustain with credibility any appearance of objectivity. They are simply listed for the reader's consideration. If any one of them should turn out to be of use to any of his readers, so much the better. If not, there is always another book, another author and another approach.

Intellectual Property Law (third Edition) by Jennifer Davis (Newton Trust Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, and Fellow, Wolfson College, Cambridge) belongs to the publisher's Core Text Series. Aimed at a student readership, it is a particularly handy read for the student first approaching the course. Regrettably a lightbulb makes its appearance on the front cover but, once you've negotiated that cliche, things get better and better. The text is user-friendly, suggesting that the author has spent a good deal of time refining her techniques when explaining complex concepts in digestible form. There are also lots of cases and suggestions for further reading. According to OUP, this work "includes a chapter on industrial designs, a key aspect of intellectual property law that is often overlooked in student texts". It seems to the IPKat that so many students either mangle design law or ignore it in their exam papers that there might be a market for a cheaper IP book that leaves industrial designs out altogether -- and perhaps patents too, for much the same reason. Bibliographic details: price £19.99 (paperback), ISBN 13 978-0-19-928845-8, xlviii + 367 pages. Rupture factor: nil. Webpage here.

Contemporary Intellectual Property: Law and Policy, by the University of Edinburgh team of Hector MacQueen, Charlotte Waelde and Graeme Laurie, was originally slated for publication by Blackstone before OUP swallowed its list. The first thing that will strike any but the most inattentive reader is the physical appearance of the text: the breaking up of monolithic paragraphs into short, clear propositions, enhanced by the generous use of blue ink, makes the book very easy to read -- and even easier for the student to find second-time-around the page he remembered seeing something at a distance of some period earlier. For those who believe that books are a cooperative venture rather than the domain of their authors, there's lots of white space for the addition of marginalia, graffiti etc. Bibliographic data: price: £29.99 (paperback), lxi + 960 pages. ISBN 13 978-0-19-926339-4. Rupture factor: quite serious - this book is heavier than it looks. Webpage here.

Intellectual Property Law by the late Jon Holyoak and Nottingham University IP professor Paul Torremans, is now in its fifth edition. This member of the IPKat team liked to recommend earlier editions of this text for those of his students who found the classic Cornish & Llewelyn too intellectually challenging or user-hostile, but to his disappointment he discovered that those who struggled with Cornish & Llewelyn found that this work made similar demands on them. Both books are probably better appreciated by those who have already studied IP law and want something that will take them a little further -- which is why copies of these titles are not an unusual sight on the shelves of legal practitioners. Bibliographic data: price £27.99 (paperback). liv + 608 pages. ISBN 13 978-0-19-921785-4. Rupture factor: low to moderate. Webpage here.

Intellectual Property by Michael Spence is definitely a serious book. No gimmicks, tricks, bells and whistles but a very earnest description and explanation of the fundamental principles of IP law written by a scholar with a deep interest in the conceptual framework that underpins the system. Anyone who writes introductory texts is faced with a huge challenge: one has to effect the introduction of reader to subject through the deployment of generalised principles rather than detailed and qualified propositions: the choice of principle and the manner in which it is expressed is therefore critical to the success of the project. As a writer who chooses his words carefully, Dr Spence has managed to wield a broad brush and paint a pretty sharp miniature -- which is no mean feat. In giving IP law a context, the reader will sense that the author is more concerned to address the ethical than the economic dimensions of IP, which is somewhat contrary to the current fashion but no less welcome for that. Bibliographic data: price £19.99 (paperback), 384 pages. ISBN 13 978-0-19-876501-1. Rupture factor: zero. Webpage here.
Overkill or opportunity? Four IP titles from OUP Overkill or opportunity? Four IP titles from OUP Reviewed by Jeremy on Monday, June 02, 2008 Rating: 5


Anonymous said...

It actually publishes five. Bently and Sherman, Intellectual Property Law is also published by OUP (and I believe a 3rd Ed is imminent)

Jeremy said...

No disrespect to Lionel and Brad - I really meant "recent" IP books. I'm still right, though, on the argument that five, and indeed any higher number, is "no fewer than four" ...

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