Monday, 9 February 2015

Book Review: Dean & Dyer Introduction to Intellectual Property Law

The latest IP book to hit the sparse South African bookshelves is a collaborative effort between The Anton Mostert Chair ofIntellectual Property at the University of Stellenbosch, and Spoor & Fisher partners. It’s academia and practice together, focusing on introducing IP to its reader in 500 odd pages of paperback published by Oxford University Press. As 50 Shades of Grey screens for the first time in RSA this week, Afro-IP asks - can this book emancipate IP from its current lofty place of sacredness to something interesting, enticing, useful and fun? Let’s take a closer look.

Its authors: Beharie, Bagio, Blignaut, Cilliers, Cochrane, Du Bois, Foster, Grant, Karjiker, Khader, Reimers, Shabangu, Van Der Merwe and Van Wyk. This is quite a team, edited by the formidable Dean and Dyer. Not a bad start, especially if you were going to write a book on IP law destined for the shelves of lawyers, businessmen and students.

Its content: The obligatory chapters on trade marks, designs, copyright unlawful competition, counterfeit goods, patents, plant breeder’s rights, designs are well covered PLUS (and this is where it really stands out) there are chapters on traditional folklore, commercial considerations for transactions, IP law in the digital environment (EIP law) and IP rights and the constitution.

The compendium of information is really useful and relevant. For example (and to focus only a few parts of the book), the chapter on EIP starts with a romantic cruise into the history of computer law then takes you through fast-moving Bit torrents and file sharing, before ending in the currents that make social networks and IP, challenging; all well explained by Cobus Jooste and Sadulla Kariker. Dina Bagio’s chapter provides a neat summary of all IP legislation affecting commercial transactions whilst Tertia Beharie and Tsehpo Shabangu tackle biodiversity and traditional knowledge with aplomb, even referencing the Afro-IP blog. Merci.

Afro Leo is also highly impressed by the Foreword written by Judge Mabel Jansen who pays testimony to the editors and writers, making special mention of the contributions of Dean and Dyer to South African IP law and, in the case of Alison Dyer, to becoming a role model for women in a field traditionally dominated by men. Ms Jansen, of course, may well also refer to herself.

Its style: With multiple authors it can be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve a single consistent style. The structure of the book helps this tremendously. Chapters are broken down into short paragraphs; headings are plenty as is the cross referencing making this book easy to follow and pick-up on a specific topic. It contains regular “Pause(s) for Reflection” and “Counter Points” which assist to create depth to some of the more interesting or contentious points.

Overall recommendation: This book gets the Afro-IP thumbs up. It may not be the book that you hide between the covers of 50 Shades on the Gautrain on the way to work, but it could help spawn a much needed boom of IP savvy lawyers, and business folk. It's well priced too - you can get it here. for R549.00 (around $50)

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