For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Book reviews

A Practical Guide to Working with TRIPS, by Antony Taubman, reminds the IPKat a little bit of the position that the ancient Greek mythological figure and blind seer Tiresias.  Having spent time both as a man and as a woman, he was asked by Greek gods Zeus and Hera which of the two derived more pleasure from a particular pastime which it it lies beyond the realm of merely fictional cats to discuss.  Tactlessly deciding that Zeus was right to say that it was the female of the species who had more fun, he was struck blind by Hera by way of punishment.  Now, Antony is in an analogous position, having worked for both the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), to say which has the more control over the destiny of intellectual property rights as embodied in TRIPS. What is his answer? Which is the more fun? Readers will have to read this book and decide for themselves.

Oxford University Press, which have had the good fortune to publish this handy little work (handy because it is easily handled, little because all the publishable practical guidance in the world can't add up to a whole lot more than the author reveals here), says this:
"This book is a concise and accessible guide to the practical workings of the TRIPS agreement ...  for policymakers and their legal advisers. The book offers a unique insider's account of how the international rules of IP function in practice within a broader legal framework that consists of WTO law and dispute resolution procedures. It clarifies how IP law and trade law must be dealt with in a coherent and sustainable manner, and provides practical guidance on how to read public policy objectives into the formulation and application of IP laws and related regulation, within the legal framework established by TRIPS. The book is concise and clear, and cuts through the textual clutter and complexity that afflicts policymaking and negotiation under the TRIPS regime. 
Readership: Policymakers in government, and their legal advisers, international organizations, civil society, industry, academia, government officials, trade negotiators, and legal practitioners operating in the international intellectual property field would all be interested in this book".
This blogger has been trying to interest legal practitioners in TRIPS for the past 15 years or so, with conspicuously little success, and wouldn't want to think that his pension fund somehow depended on the number of practitioners that would be running off (or clicking on) to their favourite bookshop to buy this book. However,judging by the number of academics in post and students writing their theses and dissertations who have chosen TRIPS as at least part of their subject, there should be no shortage of customers for it.  One point to note: European readers will know that TRIPS has developed a body of case law and accompanying commentary of its own within the European Union, where the extent to which TRIPS is part of EU law, is enforceable in European courts and so on.  That subset of TRIPS-related activity lies outside the scope of this book and, in the opinion of this blogger, awaits a little book of its own.

Bibliographic data.  xxi + 227 pages. Paperback. ISBN 978-0-19-957520-6. Price: £39.95. Rupture factor: trivial. Book's web page here.


Landmark Intellectual Property Cases and Their Legacy, edited by Christopher Heath and Anselm Kamperman Sanders, is an offering from Wolters Kluwer which scoops the content of one of the Institute of European Studies of Macau (IEEM)  international IP conferences. The publisher explains what this book's theme is all abou:
"This is a book dedicated to the significance and legacy of landmark cases in the field of intellectual property. Eleven well-known scholars offer in-depth commentary and analysis of cases that have made an impact on legal theory or critical thinking about the scope and purpose of the protection of intellectual and industrial creativity. All the cases covered have proven useful in developing doctrine, even though subsequent developments have made some appear ‘misleading’ rather than ‘leading’, and for some recent cases it is too early to say whether their approach will become mainstream. ...
The book concludes with an analysis of two case clusters remarkable for the worldwide dimension of the dispute. The authors show how litigation over Lego in about 30 jurisdictions and Budweiser in over 40 jurisdictions has enriched doctrine on such issues as contract, trade marks, trade names, geographical indications, property rights in general, human rights, and various international and bilateral treaties, all as they impinge on the protection of intellectual property rights. For scholars in the field, as well as for lawyers seeking a rich vein of doctrine to buttress a case, this unusual book will be of incomparable value. As a masterful clarification of salient doctrine, it represents a major contribution to the legal theory underpinning intellectual property law".
Some books which are compilations of works of individual scholars are described as publications in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This book, I feel, is rather the other way round -- it is a little less than the sum of its parts.In the first place, I would personally have enjoyed a longer, more reasoned Preface than the very short (less than two sides) offering placed before readers, seeking to justify their "greatest hits" theme more rigorously, discussing some of the interesting issues of methodology that arise in the definition and selection of landmark cases and contrasting the validity of the concept in common law jurisdictions in precedent is binding, or at least highly influential, and those where it is said to be of less import. Secondly, since a not insubstantial quantity of case law is referred to in some of the chapters, a table of cases would have been appreciated.  Thirdly, I would have liked a clearer explanation of what Peter Yu's (excellent) chapter on Moral Rights 2.0 was doing in this collection, since it analyses a subject, not a landmark case, and the single sentence with which it opens is insufficient in my opinion to link it to the theme of the rest of the book: it's a bit like opening a jar of pickled herring and finding, in its midst, a chocolate truffle.

This apart, the book is an enjoyable read -- particularly the reviews of the global Lego and Budweiser litigation, which make one tremble to imagine what might have happened if the Danish brickmaker had ever picked a legal fight with Anheuser-Busch. Most of the cases are landmarks in the light of what happened after them, though in the case of eBay v MerceXchange this review remains convinced that its landmark status was conferred by what happened before the decision, like a hurricane that builds up its momentum, instills massive fear and then misses its supposed victims.


Bibliographic data: xxii + 247 pages. Hardback. ISBN 9041133437 and 13: 9789041133434. Price US$ $162. Rupture factor: low. Book's web page here.


Intellectual Property And Biotechnology, edited by Arti K. Rai (Elvin R. Latty Professor of Law, Duke Law School, Durham, US), is the latest in Edward Elgar Publishing's series of Critical Concepts in Intellectual Property Law.It's a difficult book to review in the round, like any compilation of previously published articles which were not based on the same theme or premise (cf the 'landmark cases' theme of the book reviewed above), where there is a broad spread of time between the earliest and latest studies.

According to the publishers:
"In this timely volume Professor Arti Rai brings together a wide range of articles that reveal the important role of intellectual property law in the formation and development of the dynamic and economically significant biotechnology industry.

The collection encompasses theoretical articles that present principles of patent economics important to the industry, articles that discuss the patent law doctrines most relevant to biotechnology and empirical studies on the ‘real world’ effects of patents and secrecy. These are resonant issues in an ever-expanding field, and will establish this book as an essential reference point for lawyers, researchers and students".
This is all true. It is a worthy collection which matches its description. There should however be a little notice somewhere to the effect that its contents are essentially United States-derived and United States-oriented. Without it, one might be forgiven for thinking that European scholarship and endeavour, whether in law, economics or biotechnology itself, is non-existent.

Bibliographic data: xxi + 561 pages. Hardback. ISBN 978 1 84844 261 0. Price £185 (or, if you buy it online from the publisher, £166.50).  Rupture factor: above average. Book's web page here.

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