Standards and strategies: two books in review

Patents and Industry Standards, by Jae Hun Park (Korean Intellectual Property Office, Korea), is a relatively slender book on a subject which is immense and simply keeps expanding. According to the increasingly adventurous IP publisher Edward Elgar Publishing,
"This insightful book reviews the inherent conflict between patent rights and industry standards and through analysis of both US and European case law proposes measures to improve current systems and foster greater innovation.

Jae Hun Park searches for the appropriate balance between the rights of patent owners and the need for industry standards within the scope of patent law. He considers the current solutions provided by legal systems and using cost–benefit analysis evaluates, from a legal and economic perspective, whether patent systems can be improved. [Plot spoiler:] Jae Hun Park proposes reform to the patent system that would introduce a ‘dynamic liability rule regime’, rather than ‘property rules’.  The ‘dynamic liability rule regime’ adopts property rules at the stage when there are still competing standards, and liability rules at the stage when there are no competing standards. This would, he argues, resolve the conflict between patents and standards and mitigate the patent hold-up problem.

This is a must-read book for scholars interested in technology patents, innovation and competition law and policy, as well as those individuals working in standard setting organisations. It will also be of great interest to patent offices, patent attorneys and competition lawyers".
This member of the IPKat team has been doing quite a bit of reading and thinking about the conflict between patent rights and industry standards, within the rather different context of the impact of standards setting bodies on the balance between proprietary technology and the public domain. He is in awe of the amount of reading that the author has done; his ability to extract the pips from some of his economics reading and keep to nothing more intimidating than Venn diagrams was also greatly appreciated.  If he has a reservation, it is that he feels that the author has worked hard to find a solution to something that the reviewer is not convinced is actually a problem.  The variety of industry standards and the speed at which they have evolved and continue to transform themselves suggests that we watch and see whether genuine and insoluble problems do indeed exist before we change our relatively tolerant, ad-hoc, after-the-event approach to them.

Bibliographic information: publication date 2010. xiii + 238 pages. Hardback. ISBN 978 1 84980 011 2. Price £65 (with publisher's online discount £58.50). Also available as an ebook, ISBN 978 1 84980 548 3. Web page here. Rupture factor: slight.

Intellectual Property and Competitive Strategies in the 21st Century (2nd edition) by Shahid Alikhan, R. A. Mashelkar, comes highly praised by publishers Wolters Kluwer, in whose Law & Business series this is published.  The authors are Shahid Alikhan, who is described in all modesty as "a highly distinguished elder statesman in the field of intellectual property". His career appears to have been that of an IP diplomat, having served as Deputy General of the World Intellectual Property Organization.  His fellow author, Raghunath Mashelkar, is billed as "one of the world's outstanding chemical engineering scientists", a Fellow of the Royal Society and the holder of 26 honorary doctorates.

According to the publishers:
"It is scarcely five years since the first edition of this book, a milestone in the strategy-oriented approach to intellectual property at the global level, appeared and was quickly and widely welcomed as virtually an intellectual property agenda for the 21st century. This second edition includes a judicious update of the original data and analysis in light of the significant movement forward that has taken place over the past few years in many of the critical areas that shape the competitive strategies in the use of IP Rights. The authors have lost none of their conviction of the necessity to enhance awareness of the techno-economic effects of intellectual property rights protection on enterprise competitiveness and national growth and development.

The book provides a panoramic but detailed view of the world’s intellectual property system that embraces socioeconomic, cultural and technological development in its scope, clarifying the pitfalls and challenges that the system presents even as it promises to improve the quality of life on our planet. The authors both internationally respected and honoured for their work in elucidating the economic necessity of an intellectual property system that can inspire universal confidence, emphasize the imperative of international competiveness in knowledge-based technology.... 
... for its richly detailed treatment of trends and current reality in the field, this new, updated edition of Intellectual Property and Competitive Strategies in the 21st Century will continue to be read and put to good use by business people, international lawyers, government officials, and interested academics in all parts of the world".
With so much praise provided by the publisher, this book needs no further praise from the IPKat. Nor will it receive any. He opened it with some trepidation, having somehow incredibly missed the first edition when it exploded on an unsuspecting world.  Nor, since its publication, has he heard anyone even mention it. Could this be some conspiracy, perhaps, to conceal its presence from him?

In truth, this is a modest little book, not so much as an agenda for the 21st century as a simple introduction for beginners, a book written (it appears) by authors whose familiarity with competitive strategies is derived from reading what others have written on it. Feted as a milestone, it is more of a molehill: it is in many places a collection of muddled generalities, of generally unexceptionable sentiments and of unassailable truisms. Nor is it clear as to who is expected to read it. Are the authors talking of strategies for international agencies, for special interest groups and lobbyists, for businesses or for individuals?  The publishers have done this book and its authors no favours by puffing its importance beyond all credibility.  Had it been entitled something like Some General Reflections on the Role of Intellectual Property, it would have deserved more respectful treatment.

Bibliographic details: published 2009. Hardback. xiii + 221 pages. ISBN: 9789041126443. Price: $119.  Book's web page here. Rupture factor: slight.
Standards and strategies: two books in review Standards and strategies: two books in review Reviewed by Jeremy on Monday, December 13, 2010 Rating: 5

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