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JILT 2003 (1) - Mark Van Hoorebeek





Book Format and Area of Coverage



4. Conclusion

Expanding the Boundaries of Intellectual Property: Innovation Policy for the Knowledge Society

Editors: Rochelle Dreyfuss, Diane L Zimmerman and Harry First

Oxford University Press
ISBN 0198298579
Cost: £55.00

Reviewed by:
Mark Van Hoorebeek
Law School, University of Sheffield

1. Introduction

Three heavyweight academics weigh in to edit a collection of works produced by a selection of the great and the good of the intellectual property community. Based around a New York University sponsored conference, held in Italy, this volume delivers more than just simple conference proceedings. The delegates obviously provided the talent, which was subsequently channeled (by the New York editors), into an eclectic and oddly cohesive collection of articles.

Intellectual property is a rapidly moving area of law influencing many areas of today's society. Expanding the Boundaries of Intellectual Property is part of a series of publications by Oxford University Press recently published to reflect this influence. These publications deal with the various aspects of intellectual property involved in the digital age.

Intellectual property is defined by its fuzzy boundaries; this particular book looks to identify some of the possible consequences if these fuzzy boundaries are altered. The main unifying theme within the volume deals with the control inventors should have over their intellectual works. A simple premise it may be, but it is one that has manifested itself over the last fifteen years into an important component of the global economy. The book examines the debate over the boundaries of intellectual property rights from a variety of perspectives; each chapter presenting issues that an information based society will, at some point face.

2. Book Format and Area of Coverage

The introductions, at the beginning of each of the five sections help accessibility for those less aquatinted with the subject, they do however seem a little too short. This accessibility allows the topical themes to be excised and used in a student discussion context. Although clearly written this can in no way be described as an intellectual property textbook, but the carefully constructed arguments allow this book to be used for the purposes of undergraduate further reading.

The book itself is split into five parts related by theme:

Part I explores the claims for expanding the boundaries of intellectual property law. There are two themes presented, the first involves enlarging the scope of standard forms of protection i.e. copyright, patent and trademark law. The second theme involves the claiming of rights for innovations that are not protected at present by the conventional regimes.

Part II deals with the private influences on intellectual property rights: standard setting through industry, digital copyright provided by company-developed software, patent pools and finally digital performance rights are discussed.

Part III takes account of the costs that the new legal rights may impose. This section makes a strong case for expanding intellectual property protection to respond to technological change in a way that is sensitive to the needs of users and subsequent innovators.

Part IV investigates how a balance may be achieved between public and private concerns, a huge and complex topic, but the four contributors each provide interesting insights in to their chosen areas

Part V provides views from the bench and is aimed at advocates, policymakers, judges and legislators, i.e. those who have the task of constructing a set of legal rules that is appropriate to the knowledge society.

3. Highlights

Intellectual heavy weights the authors may well be, however many of the contributors' step into the ring with an international reputation. The UK is well represented by an excellent piece provided by Sir Robin Jacob, but certainly the author of this piece would have liked to see Sir Jacobs views lengthened.

Although high quality writing pervades virtually the whole book, three articles stand out as worthy of extra praise:

'Setting compatibility standards: Cooperation or Collusion', by Carl Shapiro. This article deals with standard setting and the legal framework of anti trust and intellectual property law. Many broad themes are explored, after an interesting historically steeped introduction.

'Institutions for Intellectual Property Transactions: The Case of Patent Pools', by Robert Merges. This piece deals with intellectual property right exchange institutions and licensing. By moving the debate away from the public bodies new aspects of control and influence can be explored.

'Bargaining Over the Transfer of Proprietary Research Tools: Is This Market Failing or Emerging?',by Rebecca Eisenberg. This article deals with the patenting of basic research tools. An excellent dissection of the controversy over the patenting of basic scientific protocols is presented.

All five sections are well supported by a range of case law. Alongside this the legislatory range includes all of the relevant European legislation, and international treaties.

4. Conclusion

There are many volumes available that deal with the knowledge economy; few however present such a wide and challenging selection of ideas. The cost of the book, although reasonable for a law library is unlikely to tempt any undergraduates. The range, depth and overall accessibility combined with the correct approach from lecturers should allow the ideas and themes to be incorporated into intellectual property courses across Europe.

The informed reader is likely to find something in this text he or she disagrees with, however, the subject is opened wide by this thought provoking insight into the future of intellectual property. Some academics may also be put off by the American influence within the book, however the themes explored are of equal importance within any intellectual property system.

Certain articles may not be to your particular taste but the books overall strength lies in its ability to open new insights into this important legal area.

This is a Book Review published on 4 July 2003.

Citation: Van Hoorebeek, M, 'Expanding the Boundaries of Intellectual Property: Innovation Policy for the Knowledge Society', Rochelle Dreyfuss, Diane L Zimmerman and Harry First (Editors), Book Review, The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT) 2003 (1) <>.
New Citation as at 1/1/04: <>.


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