Book Review: Arnold reviews "Economic Approaches to Intellectual Property"

Putting your own book out for review is a wee bit anxiety provoking, and this Kat was delighted when Richard Arnold very kindly agreed to review my new book.  Here is his take:

Book review: Economic Approaches to Intellectual Property
Richard Arnold

This new book by Kat Dr Nicola Searle (formerly Economist at the UKIPO and now a lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London) and Martin Brassell (co-founder and Chief Executive of Inngot, an intellectual property valuation consultancy) provides an introduction to the economics of intellectual property for lawyers, managers and policymakers. Unlike many texts on the economics of IP, it assumes no prior knowledge of economics and begins with an introduction to economics which explains the basic principles. Moreover, it contains no equations and few graphs. While it does include a certain of amount of economic jargon, each term is carefully explained as it is introduced. By contrast, the book does assume a basic knowledge of copyrights, designs, patents and trade marks, although it explains the less commonly encountered rights such as geographical indications and plant breeders’ rights.

The book is divided into three parts, each of which comes with its own summary. The first part consists of the introduction to economics followed by an introduction to the economics of IP. The second part looks at the economics of individual IP rights, with separate chapters on patents, copyright, trade marks and design rights, and trade secrets and other rights. Each of these chapters considers a variety of topics, from the rationale for the individual rights to the economic impact of such matters as patent harmonisation, collective licensing and grey goods. Also included in this part is a chapter on competition and IP. The third part is entitled “How, Why and When Intellectual Property Delivers Value?”. This discusses the different ways in which IP adds value to businesses, when such value is added (buying and selling, fundraising, licensing, litigation, insolvency and tax), what the determinants of IP value are (such matters as duration of protection, geographical extent of protection and so on), methods of valuing IP (such as market comparables, cost, income and option-based methods), and reporting and accounting for IP.

The book not only provides a good introduction to the subject, but also is impressive in the breadth of its coverage. Perhaps because I was fairly familiar with the subject matter of the first two parts, I was particularly interested in part three. This centres on the paradox that IP increasingly determines the value of companies (in 1975 intangible assets represented just 17% of the value of S&P500 companies, but by 2015 the figure was 84%), yet IP rarely appears on their balance sheets (unless a company is acquired, in which case IP value that did not appear on the acquired company’s balance sheet can magically appear on the acquirer’s balance sheet as “goodwill”). In essence, this is because of the difficulty in valuing IP in a robust manner, although progress is being made on this front.      

I have a few minor quibbles: I was disappointed to find no mention of performers’ rights, there are a couple of legal errors (e.g. footnote 13 on page 87 wrongly states that parts of the Copyright and Rights in Performances (Quotation and Parody) Regulations 2014 were quashed in the BASCA case, whereas in fact it was the Copyright and Rights in Performances (Personal Copies for Private Use) Regulations 2014) and there are a number of typographical errors in some of the early chapters. More significantly, I would question the treatment of designs: I do not think that it is helpful to discuss designs together with trade marks, and it is important to differentiate between the different IP rights that are in play: registered designs, which are true monopolies; unregistered design rights, which are short-term rights that are only infringed by copying; and full-term copyrights. As the authors note, however, the economics of designs is presently an under-researched field. No doubt they will have more to say on this subject in the next edition.  

Bibliographic data: Oxford University Press, June 2016, xvii + 280 pages, ISBN 978-0-19-873626-4. Price: £75 (paperback). Rupture factor: modest.
Book Review: Arnold reviews "Economic Approaches to Intellectual Property" Book Review: Arnold reviews "Economic Approaches to Intellectual Property" Reviewed by Nicola Searle on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. Probably the shortest judgment he has given in some time :)


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