For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Two for life: new titles on biotech and life sciences

It's not as if the IPKat is becoming a slower reader these days, but it seems that people are writing books and sending them to him a lot faster than he can handle them. That's why he has not yet had time until now in which to appraise The Role Of Intellectual Property Rights In Biotechnology Innovation, another collation of essays published by Edward Elgar Publishing and this time edited by David Castle (Canada Research Chair in Science, Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, Canada). According to this work's promotional material,

"Intellectual property rights (IPRs), particularly patents, occupy a prominent position in innovation systems [This is a bit like saying that teeth occupy a prominent position in dentistry], but to what extent they support or hinder innovation is widely disputed [yes, but largely by economists, academic lawyers and Venezuelan presidents]. Through the lens of biotechnology, this book delves deeply into the main issues at the crossroads of innovation and IPRs to evaluate claims of the positive and negative impacts of IPRs on innovation [Agreed: since patents perform so differently in different sectors, it makes huge sense to stick to one area of technological application. It improves the value of the analysis, even if it narrows the scope of its conclusions by pinning the evaluation of the pro- and anti- claims to the biotech sector alone]".
Professor Castle has wisely selected an international group of scholars from across the board (economic geography, health law, business, philosophy, history, public health, management) to assist in examining how IPRs actually operate in innovation systems, not just from the perspective of theory but grounded in their global, regional, national, current and historical contexts. Being a simple soul, this Kat related most easily to the essays in Part II of this work ("Fundamentals of Intellectual Property Management" by Patrick H. Sullivan; "Making a Return on R&D: A Business Perspective" by Sharon Oriel and Karen L. Durell and E. Richard Gold's "Looking Beyond the Firm: Intellectual Asset Management and Biotechnology"). Another fun chapter is "Watch What You Export: The History of Medical Exceptions from Patentability" by Tina Piper. Much of the rest of the book is, well, frankly serious -- but will provide a host of valuable perspectives on its multifaceted subject-matter.

Bibliographic details: xiv + 459 pp. Hardback, ISBN 978 1 84720 980 1. Price £110 online (just £99 if you buy it with the publisher's discount via its web page here). Rupture factor: low to moderate.


A rather more mischievous work is the second edition of Intellectual Property Rights and the Life Science Industries: Past, Present and Future, by the IPKat's friend and former colleague Graham Dutfield (now exiled to the Arctic waste of Leeds but formerly available to assist the Kat in sampling the delights of that most splendid hostelry, The Jerusalem Tavern). The publisher provides for this book the following description:
"This book is a highly readable and entertaining account of the co-evolution of the patent system and the life science industries since the mid-19th century [The past is something of a sitting target: you can pin it down by its dates and then explain or reinterpret it at leisure]. The pharmaceutical industries have their origins in advances in synthetic chemistry and in natural products research. Both approaches to drug discovery and business have shaped patent law, as have the lobbying activities of the firms involved and their supporters in the legal profession [I think the lobbying activities had a bigger impact, though ...]. In turn, patent law has impacted on the life science industries.
... the present edition focuses more on specific businesses, products and technologies, including Bayer, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, aspirin, penicillin, monoclonal antibodies and polymerase chain reaction. Another difference is that this second edition also looks into the future, addressing new areas such as systems biology, stem cell research, and synthetic biology, which promises to enable scientists to “invent” life forms from scratch [Do you think the inverted commas should be around the word "invent" or shifted to the words "life forms"? A perusal of this book may help you form an opinion]".
Targeted readers of this tome include all the usual suspects, plus a category of reader often neglected both by authors and by their publishers: "The educated general public". If there are any such persons among readers of this weblog, the IPKat commends this book to them. It is a catalyst that turns dull data into fascinating insights and explanations into many facets of the life sciences that we can easily take for granted. It's also got some cute illustrations ...

Bibliographic details. Available as a real papery thing and as an e-book. 428 pages. ISBN 978 981 283 227 6 (paperback) and 978 981 283 228 3 (e-book). Price: US$64/£48 (hard copy), US$83 (electronic version). Web page here. Rupture factor: no problem unless you can't lift your e-book reader ...

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