Big, green and understated: the new Modern Law of Patents

Sometimes you put in a ton of effort, over and above the call of duty, and find yourself asking "is it all worth the hassle?"  Authors of books published by LexisNexis may well be in that category, if their motivation was to read a glowing encomium from their publisher on the their books' websites. Not one, not two, but three Katfriends* have combined to create a third edition of The Modern Law of Patents and, even in the winter season of colds, coughs and influenza, they are not persons to be sneezed at.  However, the best the publishers could manage is:
The third edition of this popular title, is an essential resource for patent lawyers and attorneys. Written by some of the most eminent IP practitioners in the UK [though one of the three has relocated to the United States, as if there weren't enough patent lawyers there in the first place], 'The Modern Law of Patents' offers a fresh and comprehensive exposition of the law relating to patents in the UK and Europe.
That's all.  There's also a remarkably laconic flavour to the publisher's purchasing information. Under the heading 'Availability' there comes the single word 'Available' and, for 'Format', the data is simply 'Print'.  After decades of discounting the fulsome praise that publishers heap on their latest intellectual property titles, this Kat found himself mourning its absence and pining for all the usual superlatives about the book being a "ground-breaking title", a "must-read", "vital", a "timely addition to the literature", and the like. Only the bit about being "essential" was there.  This unbecoming modesty is grim news for this Kat, whose next publication is being brought out by the same publisher later this year.

One might almost suspect that LexisNexis wasn't hoping to sell too many copies of this lovely but highly expensive tome so that they could save them for themselves.  This approach to marketing rather reminds this Kat of a conversation he had some years ago with an IP owner that had tried to instruct a Magic Circle firm but failed. "Basically", he said, "they told me they didn't do that sort of work; even if they did, they were far too busy to do it for me, and then they told me that I couldn't afford them anyway".

Of the book itself, much can be said.  The text is, as far as the authors (and this Kat) can ascertain, current to 15 July 2014.  That such a large and complex volume can be turned round so speedily is a remarkable feat which speaks volumes (ouch!) for the degree of cooperation which the authorial triumvirate must have achieved with the publisher and with one another.  While the book is vast, it's only fair to concede that the text stops a bit further than half way, at page 1,346, the remaining 1,000+ pages being consumed by appendices and index.

Curiously, given the major changes that have irrevocably changed the landscape of patent law in Europe, the authors describe this edition as more of an evolution than a revolution, probably because the main changes in the form of the unitary patent and the unified patent court are more in the nature of add-ons than anything else. This Kat has just done some dabbling in the vast text and finds it pleasurably clear (more than can be said for many of the European Patent Office Board of Appeal decisions he sees, which sometimes seem to have all the fun and all the interest surgically removed from them before they are issued). He wishes this massive tome, and its authors, all the best for the future and looks forward to seeing future editions.

Bibliographic data: hardback, cclix (yes, that's 259 pages of contents, tables and sundries before the book even starts) + 2,361 pages. Price £325. ISBN 9781405787376. Rupture factor: substantial. Book's web page here.

* In not-very-alphabetical order they are barristers Ashley Roughton and Phillip Johnson, plus solicitor and veteran IP guru Trevor Cook. By all accounts the largest part of the burden of putting this work together fell on Phillip Johnson's sturdy shoulders. Well done, Phill!
Big, green and understated: the new Modern Law of Patents Big, green and understated: the new Modern Law of Patents Reviewed by Jeremy on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 Rating: 5


  1. Thank-you IPKat.

    It is difficult not to purr (no pun, or whatever you want to call it) when I read a review like that. It is true that Phill (Professor Phillip Johnson, professor of Commercial Law at Cardiff Law School, University of Cardiff) did most of the work and what little Trevor and myself did would often get Phill explaining to us, well me mainly, why what he had originally said was right and we (I) was/are wrong. Indeed in the end the only thing which Phill was willing to give ground on was that my name should go first - even then I wanted his to go first but he was rather forceful about it. Maybe next time.

    The book is, of course, available from all good booksellers and is a must for any practitioner and so on ...


  2. The "aren't there enough lawyers in the US" line in red was unneeded and uncalled for.

    Funny that if such a naked putdown were in the comments section, that post would likely be subject to be censored.

    Goose and gander...

  3. Oh, Anonymous of 13:15, what a miserable soul you are, skulking behind the apron-strings of your anonymity. Do you really think the comment "aren't there enough lawyers in the US?" is a naked put-down?

    Here's the Boston Globe, taking the view that the US is over-lawyered:

    Business Insider says the same thing:

    and take a look at Business Week:

    The Kats are right and you are a goosy gander: boom boom!

  4. I have had the chance of inspecting this book and it is admittedly impressive, but the paper is very, very thin and you can read the print on the other side of each page. I would be willing to pay more for the same book with proper paper. Actually, I would also be willing to pay the same for the same book, shorn of the thousand pages of appendices that are already free to readers online.

  5. Dear Anonymous 16:53

    Your comment - you are not the first by a long chalk to have made it - has been noted (one or two of the Kats have also done so too). I will raise it with the publishers if they are willing to give us another edition. Thanks for the feedback though. I know this sounds like marketing hype/speak, and in a way it is but, it is valuable to us, positive or negative.



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