When Willy Wonka met Edward Elgar ...

The Law And Theory of Trade Secrecy: A Handbook of Contemporary Research is a title for which the IPKat has more than a small degree of affection.  In the first place, it is published by his increasingly adventurous publishing friends at Anglo-American publishing house Edward Elgar Publishing, who have brought out a prodigious quantity of new titles in the area of intellectual property law in recent years, both of the sexy and the definitely non-sexy variety.  Secondly, it is edited by the awesome Rochelle C. Dreyfuss (Pauline Newman Professor of Law, NYU School of Law) and her colleague the redoubtable Katherine J. Strandburg (Professor of Law at the same institution. Thirdly, a number of friends (and people whom he'd like to have as friends but hasn't quite met them yet) have contributed handsome chapters to the work. Fourthly, and here comes the declaration of personal interest, it's the latest volume in the publisher's Handbook of Contemporary Research series, of which the series editor is none other than this very Kat.

So what does the book's web-blurb reveal?  Just the usual praise, nothing too untoward:
"This timely Handbook [right, well no publisher to this blogger's knowledge has ever described a newly-launched work as 'untimely' ..] marks a major shift in innovation studies, moving the focus of attention from the standard intellectual property regimes of copyright, patent, and trademark, to an exploration of trade secrecy and the laws governing know-how, tacit knowledge, and confidential relationships [Indeed, considering how patents and copyright assume the existence of underlying trade secrecy rules, it's surprising how frequently this field is treated as a sort of afterthought].

The editors introduce the long tradition of trade secrecy protection and its emerging importance as a focus of scholarly inquiry. The book then presents theoretical, doctrinal, and comparative considerations of the foundations of trade secrecy, before moving on to study the impact of trade secrecy regimes on innovation and on other social values. Coverage includes topics such as sharing norms, expressive interests, culture, politics, competition, health, and the environment [ie the book will take the willing reader to the outer borders of trade secrecy, if the reader is prepared to go there].

This important Handbook offers the first modern exploration of trade secrecy law and will strongly appeal to intellectual property academics, and to students and lawyers practicing in the intellectual property area. Professors in competition law, constitutional law, and environmental law [it takes a lot to make environmental lawyers happy, but this book obliges: the paper comes from "responsible sources"] will also find much to interest them in this book, as will innovation theorists".
The contributions open in spectacular fashion with "Trade Secrecy in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory" by Fordham's Jeanne C. Fromer. The analysis is even better than the title and, though the law as stated is that of the United States, Jeanne's theme can easily be used, with or without adaptation to local legal conditions, as a way of sensitising students and even practitioners to the issues that drive commercial secrecy.  It would be unfair to pick and choose among the subsequent chapters, but those which particularly appealed to the IPKat --either because he found himself nodding in agreement or growling his disagreement -- included the contributions by Jerome H. Reichman, Geertrui Van Overwalle, Frank Pasquale and Carlos Correa.

Bibliographic details. Hardback, xix + 611 pqt3w. ISBN 978 1 84720 899 6. Price £165 (with publisher's online discount £148.50). Rupture factor: moderate. Web page here.

Other books in the series
When Willy Wonka met Edward Elgar ... When Willy Wonka met Edward Elgar ... Reviewed by Jeremy on Sunday, November 13, 2011 Rating: 5

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