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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Global IP law: two recent publications

Covered in embarrassment, the IPKat has just unearthed a treasure trove of books which he has received for review, but which for one reason or other have been delayed on the shelf for rather longer than he likes. He's now taking the opportunity to have a good look at them and he's happy to report on what he sees.

First up is Global Challenge of Intellectual Property Rights, edited by Robert Bird (Assistant Professor of Business Law, University of Connecticut, US) and Subhash C. Jain (Professor of International Marketing, Director, Center for International Business Education and Research, CIBER), an author whose credentials are so impressive that he looks over-qualified for almost any job short of ruling the economy of the free world.


So what's this book about? According to the publisher's web-blurb:
"The importance of intellectual property rights is now well established as a vital component in the success of firms and nations. The diverse contributors to this volume, drawn from the fields of law, business and economics, clarify and analyze the problems and promise of IP policy from a global perspective. They discuss both developed and emerging nations and advance the understanding of this increasingly important topic [if IP gets much more important, it'll go 'pop'].

The articles address issues from an interdisciplinary focus with an emphasis on current topical issues. Topics addressed include intellectual rights protection in emerging nations such as China, an exploration of a specific cross-national intellectual property perspective, strategies for protecting intellectual property rights, and a guide to understanding emerging and non-western legal systems. A mix of theoretical and practical observations helps the reader navigate the increasingly international topic of intellectual property as well as offers strategies for optimal utilization of intellectual property assets. The volume serves well both as a solution-oriented book and as a tool for facilitating further discussion and analysis in the classroom.

Scholars and students in law, business and economics, as well as business practitioners interested in a global perspective on IP policy, will enjoy this book.
The IPKat, having overcome his perpetual prejudice against the overused, hackneyed light-bulb motif as a symbol of intellectual property, would be hard-pressed to call this a book to enjoy, unless enjoyment comes from leaving the reader in intellectual suspense: it's a book to stimulate, to inform, to offer a variety of perspectives from which to view IP and methodologies with which to analyse it -- but it will leave the reader with the strong impression that IP, despite its history and pedigree, is very much an instance of "work in progress" rather than the finished product. Each era, each technology, each set of social and economic imperatives will interact with basic IP concepts in a never-ending series of changes, which provoke fresh changes in turn. It's a story which, so far as we can tell, has plenty of action but no ending.

Bibliographic details: published by Edward Elgar, 2008. xix + 293 pp. Hardback, ISBN 978 1 84720 360 1. Regular price £90.00 (with online discount, if you buy direct from the publisher, £81.00). Web page here. Rupture factor: low. This book is also available as an ebook (ISBN 978 1 84844 488 1).


Next off the to-be-reviewed shelf is Global Intellectual Property Law, by the IPKat's friends Graham Dutfield (Professor of International Governance and Co-Director, Centre for International Governance, University of Leeds) and Uma Suthersanen (Reader in Intellectual Property Law and Policy, School of Law, Queen Mary, University of London). This reviewer has worked with both authors over the years and can testify to their enthusiasm, willingness to ask awkward questions and commitment to sweeping away the cobwebs of conventional habits of thought.

What does the publisher's web-blurb say about this title?
"Globalisation of trade means that intangible informational resources are now produced, bartered and consumed anywhere and everywhere defying jurisdictional borders. Intellectual property has moved into the mainstream of national economic and developmental planning; in the recent past it has also emerged as the central impetus in multilateral trade relations. The authors of this original and progressive textbook trace the evolving remits of intellectual property, which are rapidly expanding to embrace new subject matter and increase the scope of protection. This creates conflicts with current trade, development, cultural, ethical, human rights and economic mores.

This book reflects on intellectual property as it stands at the crossroads of these values. It considers the challenges presented by such developments as the commodification of persona, the commons, and life itself. Most significantly perhaps, the book examines the impact of intellectual property on the international stage, especially in respect of trade, development, economics and biological and cultural diversity. It is sure to become an invaluable reference work for scholars and students of intellectual property, international law, public policy, politics, government, human rights and development, as well as legal practitioners".
The book's website comes with some glowing commendations from sources around the world. Of these, the IPKat's favourite comes from the Australian Intellectual Property Law Bulletin:
‘. . . the book is enlightening for practitioners who are often required to take into account global considerations when advising clients. . . It would be of particular interest to policy-makers in the intellectual property field.’
All the Kat can say to this is that he'd love to know where he can also get his hands on clients who are happy to pay to have their global considerations taken into account. He wouldn't mind a few of them himself.
This volume covers much of the same ground as Global Intellectual Property Law, but in a very different way. Lacking the same wide range of backgrounds and interests that have shaped the writings edited by Bird & Jain, it gains by being able to offer a more consistent and intimate approach and gives the impression of having been shaped as much by the authors' perceptions of their students' abilities and interests as by the desire to shake the reader out of long-held and possibly wrong-headed assumptions about the effect of IP law globally.

Bibliographic details: published by Edward Elgar, 2008. ix + 370 pp. Hardback. ISBN 978 1 84376 942 2. Price £ 85.00 (with online discount, £ 76.50, if you buy directly from the publisher). This book is also available as an ebook 978 1 84844 386 0. Book's web page here. Rupture factor: low. You can get a PDF of the first chapter here.
So which do you buy if you can only afford one? That's a difficult question, since the books do not exactly replicate one another. From his own perspective, if the IPKat were preparing a lecture and wanted to consider all his options in the cold light of day, he'd probably want his copy of Bird & Jain at hand. However, if he were going off for a drink or two and a good argument with his students after the lecture, he thinks the Duffield and Suthersanen would be his choice.

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