Thursday, 12 August 2010

Intellectual Property and EU Competition Law

A while ago, I had the impertinence, when posting reviews of three books that OUP had sent me, to suggest that a copy of Jonathan Turner's book would be welcome. It duly arrived. I must therefore review it, especially bearing in mind the flattering comments Jonathan has made about my Dictionary. In the meantime, I have written another review of one of those OUP books (Amanda Michaels's Practical Approach to Trade Mark Law) for the Trademark Reporter, and that was published online yesterday - though "published" is perhaps not quite the right word, given the lengths even INTA members have to go to to get to it, and the fact that it is simply unavailable to non-members.
The launch party for Jonathan's book was a highly enjoyable affair, a few months ago now. I took the unfortunate LPC student who was assigned me as her mentor, and we practised our networking skills. We also enjoyed trying the quiz that Jonathan had devised, offering pictorial clues to well-known cases in which intellectual property and EU competition law collided. I failed to identify Pronuptia and Consten/Grundig: ridiculous. I am not spending enough time thinking about EU competition law.
I did think about it a bit recently, though, because Jones v Ricoh (reported elsewhere on this blawg) almost brings the two subjects together. The reason for saying "almost" is that it's a confidential information case, and that is arguably not in the IP world (as comments on the IPKat's report of the case have argued). Jonathan Turner includes a little about confidential information in his book, but that isn't the point. To my mind the important thing is that what we know as intellectual property isn't really property anyway, although the metaphor is convenient: but that's not the point either. The Kat observes that this is a rare instance of an English court dealing with a point of European Union competition law rather than trying to pretend it hasn't been raised.
If that happens more in the IP field (as it is sure to do), Jonathan Turner's book will be essential reading for all those practitioners likely to be exposed to the two fields of law. That they are related is no revelation, although their relationship isn't as simple as it might at first look. Intellectual property rights, despite their monopolistic character, are not inherently anticompetitive - in fact, on the contrary, they should be seen as pro-competitive.
The book adopts the slightly unusual approach of treating the subject in chapters devoted to technology; culture, media and sport; and branding. With an introductory chapter (nearly half the book), that makes only four chapters spread over 300 pages, and lengthy chapters cause footnote numbers to exceed 1000. Not that this in any way detracts from the quality of the content: it does however seem an odd way to construct a book - a point I made when reviewing Amanda Michaels's, too.
Although it's aimed squarely at practitioners (who else would be interested?), and it contains a large amount of black letter law (it would not be possible to do other than to describe the cases, the block exemption regulations, the Notices and other sources) it is not a dry exposition of legal rules. Notwithstanding the length of the chapters, it's easy to find one's way around in and contains the answers - even, in some cases, in tabular form - to all the questions that might need answering. Well, all the questions I have thought up, anyway.
In an emerging area of law like this, it's important to know that you're right up to date, which means it would be desirable to have a note of the date at which it was up to date - accepting the inevitable, that no book remains up to date for long. The Union's Court and the Commission are not known for their alacrity in moving the law forward, so the author will have been able to see developments ocming, and this handsomely-produced tome should therefore enjoy a reasonable shelf-life - at £145 one would wish that to be the case.

No comments:


blogger templates | Make Money Online