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It has a somewhat descriptive title, but no-one can accuse the Sweet & Maxwell loose-leaf European Patent Decisions of not containing what it says on the cover. Founded by patent attorney Robert Jehan, then passed to barrister David de Jehan, this tome is now in the hands of Queen Mary Intellectual Property Research Institute researcher Florian Leverve and his colleague Noam Shemtov (recently appointed Lecturer in IP Law at the University of Buckingham.

What the publisher says:

"A compendium of the important decisions of the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office

European Patent Decisions contains a digest of substantially all the more important decisions of the European Patent Office. The relevant facts and questions of law in each decision are summarised clearly and concisely. The decisions are digested neutrally and many of them are followed by a separate section noting issues arising from the decision and a comments section containing the author's opinions on the legal effect of the decision.

* Three narrative sections at the beginning of the work provide the user with general advice on important points of European patent law".

The IPKat has a huge aversion to loose-leafs, partly because they are so user-unfriendly to (i) carry around in a briefcase, (ii) update and (iii) use at all, once -- as is the case here -- there are so many pages that you can't actually open it and expect it to remain open unless you wedge at least one large, heavy object between its covers. He would really like the publishers to develop a web-based model, or to publish it in a more amenable format (how about A4 pages, so you can photocopy the bits you want more easily? If Sweets are really worried about the environment they can make an edible version, too).

Putting aside his aversions for a moment, the Kat feels that the work is in good hands. The subject-matter is not exactly laught-a-minute stuff. Decisions of the EPO are formal in their structure, technical in their content and often rather unforthcoming in the manner of their delivery. Collectively they compose the true model of a living patent application and grant review system; individually they can leave the reader with a feeling that they represent the worst aspects of a system that many feel to be too highly structured and inflexible for the tasks it now faces. The notes of the selected decisions in this work are a good deal more accessible to the reader than the raw material from which they are hewn, while the cross references and comments can be invaluable to the reader who might otherwise be navigating blind through a minefield of legal niceties and fine technical distinctions.

Bibliographic details: looseleaf. Price £393.60, excluding delivery. ISBN: 9780952000723. Rupture factor: bring your own truss. Publisher's web page here.

When a book runs to a second edition, it may be at the instance of the publisher seeking to boost its profits, the author or editor seeking to enhance an academic or professional reputation or the public clamouring for more of the same. Indigenous Heritage & Intellectual Property: genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore, edited by German scholar Silke von Lewinski, has now reached its second edition under the aegis of Wolters Kluwer, and it is the feeling of the IPKat that there is actually a fourth reason for a second edition -- the subject matter is one whose time has come.

Whatever one may feel about the proper place of indigenous heritage within the ambit of intellectual property, the two subjects have been yoked together so frequently by so many organisations and individuals, in so many contexts, that they have become almost fused together. Like an irritable couple who find themselves invited to all the same social functions and who always end up sitting next to one another at the same table, IP and TK have been, to all intents and purposes, married off to each other. No matter that the one is premised on notions of individual creativity, its incentive and reward, while the other is premised on notions of protection of the collective interest, respect for cultural integrity and fair conduct in trade -- the two are now indissolubly tied together and will remain so until IP, through its craft and guile, has sucked out all that is worthwhile within TK, channeling its content through its own selection of rights, leaving TK as little more than an empty husk. So now it is incumbent on the entire IP community to learn what TK is all about, and to live with it.

What the publisher says:

"... Recognizing that the commercial exploitation of indigenous knowledge and resources takes place in the midst of a genuine and significant clash of cultures, the eight contributors to this important book explore ways in which intellectual property law can expand to accommodate the interests of indigenous people to their traditional knowledge, genetic resources, indigenous names and designations, and folklore. ...

As a starting point toward mutual understanding and a common basis for communication between Western-style industries and indigenous communities, Indigenous Heritage and Intellectual Property is of immeasurable value. It offers not only an in-depth evaluation of the current legal situation under national, regional and international law including analyses of the Convention on Biological Diversity and other international instruments, as well as initiatives of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and other international bodies but also probes numerous further possibilities. While no one concerned with indigenous culture or environmental issues can afford to ignore it, this book is also of special significance to practitioners and policymakers in intellectual property law in relation to indigenous heritage. ...".

What the IPKat says. The book spares no effort in placing TK within the context of a wide array of international agreements and organisations, the aims and objectives of which are sometimes aligned, sometimes at cross purposes. The authors of the various chapters are pretty rigorous in their analyses, showing the difficulties and objections posed by solutions to the tensions between IP and TK. The Kat hopes that, by the time a third edition is produced, the volume of available legal data on the private law side will have grown, so that we will be able to see how businesses in the developed world and governmental and official agencies in the developing countries have taken things further at the level of joint ventures, licences, information and rights exchanges and the creation of controlled but exploitable databases of TK-derived product and processes.

Bibliographic details: xxvi + 536 pages. Hardback. ISBNs 9041124926 and 13 9789041124920. Rupture factor: quite substantial. Price £113. Publisher's web page here

Also from Wolters Kluwer comes International Licensing and Technology Transfer: Practice and the Law, edited by the highly respected team of Adam Liberman, Peter Chrocziel and Russell Levine. Like European Patent Decisions (above), it's a loose-leaf -- though it's somewhat easier to handle than the Sweet & Maxwell book because it currently has fewer pages to grapple with. There's also a CD containing the texts of model agreements.

What the publisher says:
"As technology licensing has grown and expanded, so has the complexity of the licensing transaction. Licensing professionals today must understand the intellectual property legislation, rules and policies applicable in each country covered by the license. Today’s licensing professional must also be aware of the large number of issues that need to be evaluated and analyzed during due diligence—before entering into a license agreement.

International Licensing and Technology Transfer: Practice and the Law covers all of that—and more! This unique resource provides an authoritative, single-source commentary on licensing in an international context. The publication is written by practitioners for practitioners, and provides many useful insights into both the law and practice involved in international licensing. ... "
Says the IPKat, the main thrust of this book can be seen from the authors' standpoints: covering the USA, Europe/Germany and Australia they span (i) the common law/civil law divide, (ii) the Old and New Worlds and (iii) the established economies of the North Atlantic and the vibrant economies of the Asia-Pacific. In truth, licensing is such a vast topic, and it takes on the individual characteristics of each industry in which it is practised, that it is difficult to know where to begin a book like this. Accordingly the authors focus much more on principles of licensing than on industry-specific activities. This means that, while this volume is great if you're starting from scratch with a new technology or a one-off product or process, it's not going to be the must-read book if your business is, for example, in a highly-developed area in which licensing has a certain ritual quality to it such as film production and distribution, technical standard-setting, outsourcing, digital rights management or open-source: these are areas to which the excellent advice in this book is not specifically geared (though the materials on competition law are very helpful). Nor, realistically, could it be, if this work is to remain manageable for readers and authors alike. Anyway, the IPKat looks forward to seeing how it develops, with the addition of further countries and plenty more sage advice for its readers and users.

Bibliographic data: Loose-leaf. Price £205, including the most recent supplement. ISBNs 9041125019 and 13: 9789041125019. Rupture factor: moderate to severe. Looseleaf. Publisher's web page here.
More book reviews More book reviews Reviewed by Jeremy on Tuesday, August 12, 2008 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. While S&M's Decisions is useful, it's price to quality ratio is frightening and service has, over the years,been poor. Updates from Mr Jehan were annual, while S&M took to six-monthly (-ish) updates at £70 a go, before I gave up. One update was so thin (and so delayed) that it was a disgrace. I used it and was very grateful for my EQE 10 years ago, but now I prefer Visser. Sorry. If it has regained its status, congrats to those involved.


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