Holiday gifts for the IP geek

What to give an IP geek for Christmas or Hanukkah? A book, yes, always a good idea. But maybe something a bit lighter than Trademark License Agreements Line by Line: A Detailed Look at Trademark License Agreements and How to Change Them to Meet Your Needs by Erik W. Kahn.

For the copyright lawyer, this Kat recommends Edward Samuels' Illustrated History of Copyright. It's out of print, and the author has made available an online version, but you can still get new copies from Amazon - definitely worth it. As Raymond Dowd from the New York Law Journal put it:

With its sound scholarship, The Illustrated Story of Copyright succeeds brilliantly. In a mere 250 pages it makes clear and resolves seemingly disparate elements of an area of law that dominates our collective economic and cultural future. But this is not its true success. Its highest achievement is communicating in a novel manner one man's love affair with the tangible achievements of the human mind in all forms to a general audience. General practitioners will find demystification, copyright practitioners will find depth. Buy it.

If there is one nit to pick with the "Illustrated Story" it's that it is a bit US-centric.

For the trade mark specialist, Trademarked: A History of Well-known Brands, from Airtex to Wrights Coal Tar, by David Newton, also provides some light and entertaining reading. Synopsis:

In the first 30 years of trade registration—between 1876 and 1906—more than 250,000 marks were registered in Britain. In this book, David Newton—formerly Head of Patents Information at the British Library—has selected 220 of the most interesting and curious of those early brands. Shell originated with one Marcus Samuel selling antiques and curios, including sea shells, in Smithfield in 1833; it was only when his son visited the Caspian Sea and saw an opportunity to export oil from Russia that trade in the better known product began. An advertising campaign for Listerine mouthwash, originally a disinfectant for surgical procedures, coined the phrase “always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” From Carlsberg beer to Triumph cars, from Lea and Perrin sauces to Beecham's pills, we learn the history of these brands, the companies which registered them, and how the brands have developed over the years.
Definitely on the light side are the recommendations for the patent attorney - but the usual fare in patent law such as Patent Infringement Worldwide: Claim Interpretation - Infringement - Damages (Jan Busche, Michael Trimborn, Bernd Fabry (eds)) is no easy reading at all, so some counterbalance is in order.

Patently Absurd: The Most Ridiculous Devices Ever Invented by Christopher Cooper provides such light reading. Publisher's description:

Patently Absurd explores the funnier side of our inventive spirit by featuring actual patented products that have to be seen to be believed. The book features such inventions as "an animal powered drive," where an animal is used to move a belt and power a vehicle and a bird diaper to keep those pet birds clean. Gloves for couples who wish to hold hands in cold weather is the outcome of another patented idea, an improvement on ordinary gloves that are "unsatisfactory and indeed unromantic," where two hands can be inserted in one glove. An introduction outlines the background to patenting an invention and its history. Inventions are taken from patent offices internationally and are grouped in sections covering sport and exercise, household, animals, transport, clothing, and leisure.

Similar in content, but out of print, is Patently Ridiculous: Scuba-diving Dogs, Beerbrellas, Musical Toothpaste and Other Patented Strokes of Genius by Richard Ross. You can still get some new copies on Amazon, though. This collection of bizarre inventions concentrates on US patents.

Further recommendations by IPKat readers in the comment section are very welcome!
Holiday gifts for the IP geek Holiday gifts for the IP geek Reviewed by Mark Schweizer on Tuesday, December 01, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. I am now officially a geek - I want at least 2 from the list!!!

  2. Amazing Mark! Christmas has definitely come early for this IPGeek!

  3. Beautiful list but Mark we sincerely hope you have some other interests in your life (other than IP)

  4. could you pls suggest some books on IT law?

  5. Would be Concerned about MarkTuesday 1 December 2009 at 16:46:00 GMT

    @earlier commentators:

    I too would be seriously concerned about Mark if he could recommend an equally long list of IT books!

  6. Not sure there is such a thing as IT law, as opposed to copyright law, patent law and contract law applied to information technology.

    Not exactly an insider tip, but well worth reading if only because they have beeen hugely influental, are Larry Lessig's books - notably Code, The Future of Ideas, and Free Culture. Haven't read his latest, Remix, because I get the impression it doesn't add much new over Free Culture. More info here

    Hope concerned about Mark isn't overly concerned, now...

  7. At our firm we have received a few odd inventions relating to, well, toilets. While we insist in being anonymous, deranged minds wish to know the correct category for the lavatorially minded inventors: which one is it from sport and exercise, household, animals, transport, clothing, and leisure?

  8. Mark, please have a look here


All comments must be moderated by a member of the IPKat team before they appear on the blog. Comments will not be allowed if the contravene the IPKat policy that readers' comments should not be obscene or defamatory; they should not consist of ad hominem attacks on members of the blog team or other comment-posters and they should make a constructive contribution to the discussion of the post on which they purport to comment.

It is also the IPKat policy that comments should not be made completely anonymously, and users should use a consistent name or pseudonym (which should not itself be defamatory or obscene, or that of another real person), either in the "identity" field, or at the beginning of the comment. Current practice is to, however, allow a limited number of comments that contravene this policy, provided that the comment has a high degree of relevance and the comment chain does not become too difficult to follow.

Learn more here:

Powered by Blogger.