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Monday, 12 January 2009

Books reviewed

The ever-productive publishing house of Edward Elgar has recently brought forth another three titles for the edification of the IP public. The IPKat has been taking a look at them. They are as follows:


Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation And Software Technologies: the Economics of Monopoly Rights and Knowledge Disclosure, by Elad Harison, University of Groningen, The Netherlands. According to the publisher's web-blurb

"The inclusion of software and algorithms in the scope of patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office has propelled an ongoing debate on the contribution of patents to innovation and economic growth. This book examines the effects of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), namely patents and copyrights, on innovation and technical change in information technologies. It provides new insights on the links between markets, technologies and legislation by applying a variety of empirical and analytical methods. The book also explores the success of the Open Source movement to establish an alternative regime for IPRs by illuminating the rationale behind it and illustrating how Open Source can strategically be used by firms.

Initially the book analyzes the role of IPRs by building upon the literature on the economics of innovation and technical change and on insights from evolutionary economics – in particular, the role of knowledge in the economy. It then goes on to analyze the evolution of IPR regimes and IPR policies with regard to IT and software technologies and products and elaborates their impact on innovation. Finally, a series of empirical and analytical models are provided to elaborate the balance between monopoly rights (by patent and copyrights) and knowledge disclosure as an input for innovation and technological development".
The intended readership is "researchers and academics of law and economics, policymakers such as the European Commission, Patent offices, EPO, OECD, as well as directors and strategic managers in large software companies".  Although it's not being aimed at legal practitioners, they will find plenty to interest them in terms of the shifting conceptual sands of the environment in which they practise.  

The phenomenon of open source and its younger system open innovation is no longer new to the business world, but it is still a relative newcomer in terms of the academic and policy framework within which it is being securely framed.  To put it another way, first these terms represent speculative empirical ventures into a market in which the way of doing business is stable and predictable; even when they pass the empirical stage they are still often unknown and imperfectly understood within their own markets. Eventually their characteristics can be defined, described, explained and categorised. The role of the academic is rarely that of telling the software innovator how to run his business, but he plays a valuable role in explaining how, and why, a new business model has been made to work and how others might subsequently apply and further evolve it.  Books like that of Professor Harison can help to do just that.

Bibliographic detals.   240 pp. Hardback. ISBN  978 1 84720 582 7. Real price £ 59.95; price with online discount £ 53.96. Rupture factor: low. Web page here.

Intellectual Property And Traditional Cultural Expressions In A Digital Environment, edited by Christoph Beat Graber, i-call, University of Lucerne, Switzerland and Mira Burri-Nenova, World Trade Institute, University of Berne, Switzerland.  According to the publisher's web-blurb,
"In the face of increasing globalisation, and a collision between global communication systems and local traditions, this book offers innovative trans-disciplinary analyses of the value of traditional cultural expressions (TCE) and suggests appropriate protection mechanisms for them. It combines approaches from history, philosophy, anthropology, sociology and law, and charts previously untravelled paths for developing new policy tools and legal designs that go beyond conventional copyright models. Its authors extend their reflections to a consideration of the specific features of the digital environment, which, despite enhancing the risks of misappropriation of traditional knowledge and creativity, may equally offer new opportunities for revitalising indigenous peoples’ values and provide for the sustainability of TCE.

This book will appeal to scholars interested in multidisciplinary analyses of the fragmentation of international law in the field of intellectual property and traditional cultural expressions. It will also be valuable reading for those working on broader governance and human rights issues".
Not to be read without a broad mind and a helpful dictionary (as is the case for most trans-disciplinary books these days), this is not a book for the legally faint-hearted  -- or for those who just like to curl up with some comforting text and an unchallenging narrative.  Though this work charts out the possibility of a happily-ever-after story for traditional cultural expressions, happiness never comes without some cost and, as in all meaningful relationships, that of TCEs to digital technologies requires understanding, forbearance and compromise on both sides if it is to be of lasting value. 

Bibliographic details: 352pp. Hardback 978 1 84720 921 4. Real price £ 75.00. Price with online discount £ 67.50. Rupture factor: small. Book web page here.


Research Handbook On Intellectual Property And Competition Law, edited by Josef Drexl, Director, Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition and Tax Law, Munich, Germany. According to the book's web blurb:
"This comprehensive Handbook brings together contributions from American, Canadian, European, and Japanese writers to better explore the interface between competition and intellectual property law. Issues range from the fundamental to the specific, each considered from the angle of cartels, dominant positions, and mergers. Topics covered include, among others, technology licensing, the doctrine of exhaustion, network industries, innovation, patents, and copyright.

Appropriate space is devoted to the latest developments in European and American antitrust law, such as the ‘more economic approach’ and the question of anti-competitive abuses of intellectual property rights. Each original chapter reflects extensive comments by all other contributors, an approach which ensures a diversity of perspectives within a systematic framework.

These cutting edge articles will be of great interest to law professors and postgraduate students of intellectual property and competition law, as well as those interested in innovation and competition theory, and legal practices in intellectual property and competition law".
This is a book that delivers on its promise. With a strong cast of contributors from a variety of countries, economies and disciplines, it makes the reader wonder how any commercially attractive IP ever gets exploited at all. Between the natural checks imposed by real competition and consumer self-determination and the legal checks imposed by regulation and competition law, the entrepreneur must wonder if the security and comfort of a job in academe, or in competition regulation, is preferable to the uncertainties and terrors of the competitive market place. 

Bibliographic details. 512 pp. Hardback. ISBN  978 1 84542 047 5. Real price £ 135.00. Price with online discount £121.50. Rupture facture: mild. Book's web page here.

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