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.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Eastern delight: two new titles on IP in Asia

Copyright And The Public Interest In China, by Guan H. Tang (Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, China), is another bright and attractively-produced title from Edward Elgar Publishing's Intellectual Property and Global Development list, under the general editorship of the prolific and inspirational Professor Peter Yu, of Drake University. The text has evolved from Guan's PhD thesis which was supervised by the IPKat's friend Professor Hector McQueen (University of Edinburgh).

According to the publishers,
"Guan Hong Tang expertly highlights how the multidimensional concept of public interest has influenced the development and limitations of Chinese copyright.

Since 1990 China has awarded copyright – individual rights – but also provides for public, non-criminal enforcement. The author reveals that pressures of development, globalisation and participation in a world economy have hastened the loss of public interest from copyright. However, for a socialist country, placing the common ahead of the individual interest, the public interest also constitutes a phenomenological tool with which to limit copyright. The author also discusses how the rise of the Internet, which has had a major social and economic impact on China, raises problems for Chinese copyright law [Merpel moans: the problems faced by Chinese copyright law are nothing to the problems faced by people outside the jurisdiction who wonder whether, how and at what cost they can enforce it. All those phenomenological tools floating around don't help either!]. Comparing Chinese copyright law with the USA and the UK, topical issues are presented in this unique book including those arising within education, library and archives sectors.

This insightful book will strongly appeal to students and researchers in IP law, comparative law, Chinese studies, international commerce and information science. It will also prove invaluable for lawyers and consultants with expertise in IP and China".
Does the book match up to these claims? On balance, yes -- though this Kat found the description and analysis of the China content more interesting and compelling than the comparative material from the USA and the UK, which perhaps he has had to read once too often.  It is open to argument as to whether the subject is fit for comparison at all, given the vast and all-but-unbridgeable gulf between the social, political, moral and economic bases upon which human activity is carried on in the China and the West and the consequent differences in perception as to how the public interest may be first defined and then applied.  Yet there is a bridge, in the form of the norms of international copyright law to which, even as verbal formulae alone, both China and the two Western nations must adhere.  The balance of competing private and public interests in the United States, the same principle --but adulterated by 'proportionality' -- in the European Union and the Confucianism that flavours so much Chinese sentiment all seem to drive in much the same direction, and all three seem to fulfill the same function: ideals that are easier to explain, to justify and to advocate than they are to apply consistently to the facts of the myriad real-life disputes than invoke them.

Bibliographical data: xiii + 283 pages. Hardback. ISBN 978 0 85793 106 1 (also available as an ebook as ISBN 978 0 85793 107 8). Hardback £79.95, but the publisher's online price is £71.96. Rupture factor: low. Web page here.


Intellectual Property, Competition Law and Economics in Asia, edited by R Ian McEwin, comes from the Hart Publishing stable. The editor, Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore, has a finger in both academic and practical pies sinc he is also Senior Economic and Regulatory Adviser to Rajah & Tann. In  a previous existence he was economics adviser to the Singapore Department of Trade and Industry on competition law matters, before joining the Singapore Competition Commission as its inaugural Chief Economist [says Merpel, it's kudos to be linked with trade. industry and competition issues in a country with a strong economy in which both the public and the private sector seem to have somewhat entrepreneurial affections].  According to the publishers:
"This book results from a conference held in Singapore in September 2009 that brought together distinguished lawyers and economists to examine the differences and similarities in the intersection between intellectual property and competition laws in Asia. The prime focus was how best to balance these laws to improve economic welfare. Countries in Asia have different levels of development and experience with intellectual property and competition laws. Japan has the longest experience and now vigorously enforces both competition and intellectual property laws. Most other countries in Asia have only recently introduced intellectual property laws (due to the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement) and competition laws (sometimes due to the World Bank, International Monetary Fund or free trade agreements). 
It would be naïve to think that laws, even if similar on the surface, have the same goals or can be enforced similarly. Countries have differing degrees of acceptance of these laws, different economic circumstances and differing legal and political institutions. To set the scene, Judge Doug Ginsburg, Greg Sidak, David Teece and Bill Kovacic look at the intersection of intellectual property and competition laws in the United States. Next are country chapters on Asia, each jointly authored by a lawyer and an economist. The country chapters outline the institutional background to the intersection in each country, discuss the policy underpinnings (theoretically as well as describing actual policy initiatives), analyse the case law in the area, and make policy prescriptions".
Books based on conferences have both strengths and weaknesses. Their strengths lie in the fact that most speakers, having already done the hard work in preparing their papers, are happy to indulge in a bit of recycling and get extra mileage from their work in the form of a chapter in a book which, in their minds at least, everyone will buy and read. Their weaknesses lie in the fact that conference programmes are initially  more limited than other collections of essays, since the selection of authors depends on such chance factors as their availability on a specific date and the need to provide real-time instruction and dialogue that segues through not just the topics but the diurnal demands of those attending. The papers in this collection are, however, very much more than the average conference paper and it is apparent that their authors have worked hard to enrich their topics to a higher level of analysis and detail than one might expect from a fresh bundle of conference papers.

This Kat was unfamiliar with the names of most of the contributors and, for that matter, with much of the content -- which means that he had a chance to learn something.  If nothing else, he had not previously appreciated the difference between dynamic and static competition in antitrust law. However, having an IP background and with a knowledge of competition that has been picked up on a need-to-groan basis, he thought the country-by-country chapters more accessible to him than the analytic "Setting the Scene" section at the beginning.

Bibliographical data. Hardback. xxxiii + 334 pages. ISBN 9781849460873. Price £75. Rupture factor: low-to-medium. Web page here,

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