1 Game theory: forthcoming lecture

On Thursday 24 November, from 6pm to 7pm, IPKat co-blogmeister Jeremy is giving a lecture hosted by University College London in the Current Legal Problems series. The lecture is on ‘How to Win at Monopoly: Applying Game Theory to the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights’. According to the Abstract:
"This lecture summarises the tenets of game theory and the basic principles of intellectual property law. It tests the applicability of game theory to some basic intellectual property enforcement problems such as dealing with counterfeit goods, parallel importation and (if time and resources permit) cybersquatting. Finally, it will show that intellectual property owners are more likely to “win” if they learn how to play the game better under existing rules than by repeatedly demanding increased levels of legal protection".
Please accept this notice as a personal invitation: you're more than welcome to attend.

2 New Tottel title

One of the IPKat's recent postbags contained a surprise: Engelman's Intellectual Property Update, written by London barrister Mark Engelman (left) and published by Tottel Publishing. Costing £79 in paperback and published this October, this Update covers legislation and case law over approximately the past 18 months. According to the publishers, "it's the quick reference guide that no IP law practitioner should be without". Described as "time-saving", it offers detailed coverage of both substantive and procedural issues.
"With this fully up-to-date quick reference guide you will have immediate access to related legislation and cases, helping you to put a topic into context straight away".
The IPKat feels that this project has been totally misconceived and, for the most part, poorly executed. In the days before the internet and online services were available, there might have been some use for a book of this nature and possibly a market for it. But there is no excuse for it now. Databases like BAILII, the Patent Office and OHIM complement the subscription-based services such as LexisNexis, Lawtel and Westlaw, making it far easier to identify materials online than by using this book which, incidentally, gets woefully few words per page and is far from ideal for any practitioner who needs to photocopy items.

The format for each case is in the form of an 'Engelman number' (e.g. 5.16 is the 16th case digested in Chapter 5, Trade Marks), Case Name, Details of whether it is reported, Date of judgment, Court, Abstract, Comment, Result and Cited Authorities. On the plus side, the abstracts themselves are often quite succinct, though pressure of space must inevitably require them to be as brief as reasonably possible. However, the compilers of this book have frequently given no name for cases noted, inserting the case number instead. Another puzzle is as to why the names of members of OHIM Boards are given, while the names of Lord Chancellors' Appointed Persons are not - the IPKat would have thought that the latter would be far more interesting and useful to practitioners than the former.

As for data as to whether the case is reported, this book is frankly appalling. Sometimes a citation is given to All England Direct. More often the case's neutral citation reference is given. Still more frequently, however, no reference is given at all, despite the fact that the case has already been reported in the European Trade Mark Reports, the European Copyright and Design Reports, the Fleet Street Reports or the Reports of Patent Cases (all specialist IP reports). Another significant omission is that of any abstracts of, or reference to, European Patent Office decisions - which must presumably be of some use to patent practitioners. If OHIM decisions are featured, why not EPO decisions too? A further omission is that of any clear guidance on the outside of the book itself as to the period it covers.

It's obvious that a lot of hard work has gone into preparing this book, but that its planning and execution has let it down. If this book is to be "the first of many future annual editions", the IPKat hopes that its publishers and planners will put some long, hard thought into sorting it out. Merpel adds, how can this book be the first of any future editions? The first future edition will be the next one ...
GAME THEORY LECTURE; NEW BOOK GAME THEORY LECTURE; NEW BOOK Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, November 09, 2005 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. Game theory

    Another area that I wonder whether game theory could be relevant to is policy making regarding interim injunctions. In the United States I believe this is one of the issues that has been generating the most heat in the discussions over the proposed patent law reform bill.

    Here in the UK, as I understand it, interim relief will not usually be granted unless the plaintiff can show he will suffer irreparable harm, beyond the ability of any damages to compensate (assuming the defendant has sufficiently deep pockets that there is no question about his ability to pay up if necessary).

    In contrast, in the USA it seems that eve pure financial shells can obtain interim injunctions, as seen at the moment in the Blackberry case between NTP and RIM, or the move to shut down Boston Communication Group for a dodgy telephone billing method patent.

    On the other hand, the small-inventor lobby is reportedly fighting tooth and nail (with apparently some success) to substantially keep these injunctions, claiming that they are the only things larger corporations are afraid of, and so the only way to get larger corps to take the small people's patents seriously. (And also, they say, the large cos have the resources to drag the trials out almost indefinitely). So without injunctions the claim is that the larger corps will just infringe at will, fewer small companies will dare to prosecute infringement actions, and the large corps will see any occasional patent damages pay-outs as more than offset by all the patents they will have infringed scot-free.

    It's certainly alleged often enough that without such nasty frights patents become purely a 'big boys game'.

    In game theory terms, how policy makers shape the pay-off matrix must substantially drive how players play the game.

    So I was wondering, has anyone done any thinking about this question from a game-theory perspective?


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