Something to read, Part I

As a friend and fellow-blogger, Peter Groves can expect a kind review from the IPKat.  On the other hand, the selfsame Kat came quite close to publishing an IP dictionary of his own with the same publisher (Edward Elgar Publishing) -- but pulled out of the project after he became convinced that there was no need for a printed volume of definitions in an era in which it was quicker and easier to enter a term in a search engine than to put down one's comforting mug of tea and reach for the bookshelf.  Anyway, a copy of the book in question is before the Kat at this very minute and he has been curiously turning the pages.

But first let's look at the publicity material which attended its launch:
"From 1-click and the ActionAid Chip to zwart maken, Peter Groves’ Dictionary of Intellectual Property Law' (Edward Elgar, 28 February 2011, £70) provides IP professionals and other interested parties with over 1,000 definitions covering most of the expressions that they might encounter. ...
... [T]o say that there is widespread ignorance about intellectual property is a massive understatement. What is said and written on the subject is more urban myth than solid legal understanding. Ordinary people – those who aren’t IP professionals – often have a hard time telling patents from trademarks from copyright. Many lawyers don’t know the difference, either. There’s no dictionary of intellectual property law to tell them what the words and expressions mean… until now. Peter Groves, a solicitor with 30 years’ experience of intellectual property, several books and many articles to his credit, and hundreds of hours of lecturing under his belt, has spent much of the last few years putting one together. 
Intellectual property has a vast, perplexing and diverse vocabulary, and this enriching Dictionary provides a starting point for understanding new concepts and crafting precise definitions to meet the needs of a particular case. Not only are new words and phrases being coined as technology changes and the law follows, but also the international scope of intellectual property means that IP lawyers will encounter foreign words and phrases. 
With over 1,000 expressions defined clearly and entertainingly, this book should be the first reference point to understanding intellectual property terminology. It will be particularly helpful to practitioners when they encounter expressions they have not seen before which they need to understand the true meaning and definition of. Students finding unfamiliar terminology and concepts will also appreciate the instant explanation available from this essential resource. ...".
Naturally there are omissions. 'Nerd' fails to gain an entry, notwithstanding the consideration of this word by Lords Justices Jacob and Pill in the patent appeal of Rockwater v Technip (here).  This is a pity, since one noble judge has been heard to express the notion that the definition of 'nrrd' is "the sort of person who looks up the word 'nerd' in a dictionary".  Nor, despite its recent appearance in the Patents County Court, does 'numpty' feature.  The 'moron in a hurry' is there, of course, as is that design law chameleon 'the informed user'  (only in IP is there likely to be serious speculation as to who might be the 'informed user' of a toilet bowl).

This reviewer found only one important error.  The entry under IPKat describes him has "the doyenne of intellectual property blawgs".  Doyen, if you don't mind, says the Kat -- Merpel's the doyenne!

Bibliographic data: hardback,  . ix + 336 pages. ISBN 978-1-84980-777-7. Rupture factor is not defined. Price: £70 £105.50-- but you can buy it for just £63  £94 from the Edward Elgar website here. (the publishers must have liked the review so much that they hiked the price!).

Published last year (also from Edward Elgar Publishing) is Beyond Intellectual Property: Matching Information Protection to Innovation, by IPKat team member Jeremy's old colleague William Kingston (School of Business, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland).  Having been quite merciful to Peter Groves' Dictionary on account of long and pleasant acquaintance, this Kat wondered whether he should be equally kind to the King: after all, while they have shared a number of affable conversations and pleasant events over the year, the Kat is a firm believer in the virtues of a patent system which the King would be quite willing to demolish in favour of something that works better. According to the publisher's promotional prose,
"Beyond Intellectual Property explores the many means by which information is protected. Based on thorough empirical research in the US and Europe as well as practical experience of economic innovation, it goes far beyond the traditional realm of intellectual property (IP). It also identifies the need for urgent reform of present arrangements and suggests practical ways of achieving this.

New instruments for protecting investment in information have been historically important for initiating long-wave economic cycles. William Kingston argues that although IP has been one such method, it is increasingly proving ineffective because its laws have been progressively shaped by the interests that benefit from them, rather than by visions of the public good. He demonstrates that repair will require such visions, which would also underwrite radically new forms of information protection.

This insightful book defines, describes and distinguishes between information, knowledge and meaning, and explains why information now needs changed forms of legal protection if it is to be of genuine economic value. As such, it will be of great interest to economic policy-makers, students of IP and innovation, patent agents and attorneys".
Professor Kingston's position that IP law has been "progressively shaped by the interests that benefit from them, rather than by visions of the public good" is one with which we can endlessly debate. If you take the utopian position that everyone benefits from those laws, the statement is true but meaningless -- yet if you don't, you have to define both what constitutes the interests in question and the concept of the public good.  This is no idle debating point either.  If you take trade mark law, for instance (and this book tackles information as well as innovation), it is correct to say that the law has not been progressively shaped by the interests of the consumer, but does the consumer benefit in informational terms from the same things that enable the mark's proprietor to benefit in commercial terms?  And has not IP law been more shaped by pressures of competition/antitrust law in the past few decades than by any considerations of self-interest?

Love it or loathe it, this book is well worth a read.  The author has been around the block a few times and knows how to state his positions and how to defend them.  If your definition of an interactive book is one you can respond to and, if you're a dyed-in-the-wool IP fan, have the occasional shout at, this is the book for you.

Bibliographic data:  hardback,. viii + 247 pages. ISBN 978-1-84844-992-3. Rupture factor: small. Price £65 (from the publisher's website £58.50).
Something to read, Part I Something to read, Part I Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 Rating: 5

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