IP, fundamentals and human development: all in a day's reviewing work ...

The third edition of Fundamentals of US Intellectual Property Law. Copyright, Patent, Trademark, by the triumvirate of Sheldon W. Halpern, Craig Allen Nard and Kenneth L. Port, has recently come whizzing across the IPKat's desk. This book, which emerged from a companion study for the Kluwer International Encyclopaedia of Intellectual Property (here), has one endearing factor which caused him to warm to it before he even opened it, which is its sheer manageability. Anyone who has ever come close to getting to grips with US IP law will know that it is pretty well endless. Look at those footnotes: even case citations seem to run forever and nothing is so small and insignificant as to merit being omitted from the magnificent multi-volume works and menacing loose-leafs that are the best arguments in favour of (i) large and reinforced bookcases, (ii) bigger offices in which to house one's personal collection of essential texts or (ii) e-books.

Anyway, this book does us non-US folk a favour by helping us gain a reasonable and holistic perspective of the structure and function of the US IP law corpus without having to measure every molecule of it.  As the book's blurb says:
"This completely revised and up to date Third Edition of this well received work offers in one volume a comprehensive review of United States copyright, patent, and trademark laws. It provides thorough and sophisticated treatment of this complex material in a form both less cumbersome than a treatise and considerably deeper and more sophisticated than a study outline or “nutshell”. With its detailed citations, and readily accessible and complete subject coverage, this book will be a useful quick reference or desk book for intellectual property practitioners, students, law professors, and librarians, as well as for anyone interested in understanding American intellectual property law".
The Kat's not sure about the reference to librarians. Many are truly wonderful, but he has had some painful encounters with them in the course of his career -- particularly one who refused to provide him with a copy of one of his own articles on the ground that the library would be infringing copyright (his own copyright, it should be added).  Also, a special message to some of them could be printed at the bottom of each page, reminding them that while the law they quote back at him was almost certainly current at the time they read it, it does have a nasty habit of changing at some unspecified time in the future.

The team of three authors is spearheaded by Sheldon Halpern, who is personally known to this Kat as a good guy and a natural communicator of tricky IP concepts in a way that makes them interesting as well as accessible. He and his colleagues have done us all a favour with this little book, not that the more scholarly of us would ever admit to reading it ...

Bibliographic data. ISBNs 9041133429 and 13: 9789041133427. xxiv + 428 pp. The web page here says it's got hard covers but the Kat's copy is floppy. Rupture factor? No problem!

A totally different type of book is Intellectual Property and Human Development: Current Trends and Future Scenarios, edited by Tzen Wong (Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors) and the IPKat's friend and one-time colleague at Queen Mary and the Jerusalem Tavern, Professor Graham Dutfield (University of Leeds). These two lead a cast of contributors which contains many names hitherto unknown to the Kat, who is pleased to encounter them in this volume.

The first hurdle this reviewer had to overcome was the title. The IP bit was fine, but what could the 'human development' bit be about? Was this something about embryos hatching out into the next generation of creators, competitors and consumers? The Cambridge University Press web-blurb came to his rescue with this explanation:

"This book examines the social impact of intellectual property laws. It addresses issues and trends relating to health, food security, education, new technologies, preservation of bio-cultural heritage and contemporary challenges in promoting the arts [is that all, wonders Merpel]. It explores how intellectual property frameworks could be better calibrated to meet socio-economic needs in countries at different stages of development, with local contexts and culture in mind [Ah -- a bespoke IP environment, in place of the one-size-fits-all which is so loved by tidy-minded treaty drafters and harmonisation addicts!]. A resource for policy-makers, stakeholders, non-profits and students, this volume furthermore highlights alternative modes of innovation that are emerging to address such diverse challenges as neglected or resurgent diseases in developing countries and the harnessing of creative possibilities on the Internet. The collected essays emphasize not only fair access by individuals and communities to intellectual property – protected material, whether a cure, a crop variety, clean technology, a textbook or a tune – but also the enhancement of their own capabilities in cultural participation and innovation".
This is actually one of the sort of books that this Kat reads only with reluctance, bracing himself for the onslaught on IP rights which he is sure is about to follow, only to be disappointed that there is no onslaught after all and little opportunity to deploy the righteous indignation he had been preparing -- just some constructive comments and well-made suggestions as to how the system (systems, really) could be improved and made, well, fairer. 

Bibliographic data. Paperback, l + 397 pages. ISBN: 9780521138284. Price £19.99.  l + 397 pages. Web page here. Rupture factor: minimal.
IP, fundamentals and human development: all in a day's reviewing work ... IP, fundamentals and human development: all in a day's reviewing work ... Reviewed by Jeremy on Friday, July 22, 2011 Rating: 5

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