Friday, 26 November 2010

Recent publications

Patent Law in India, by M. B. Rao and Manjula Guru, is a bit of a curiosity.  Just out this September, this book is part of Wolters Kluwer's Law & Business series (web page here).  The authors are, respectively, a senior consultant on tax, corporate and arbitration issues and member of the Law Commission of India, and a law-and-economics consultant, with an interest in the agricultural sector.  There is nothing in the biographical details of the authors, or in their acknowledgements to those who have assisted them, to suggest that they have any practical experience in patent law or any specific first-hand experience of the subject.   This is no crime: the fact that an author has extensive professional expertise in an area no more guarantees the high quality of his writing in that area than the absence of such expertise disqualifies him from producing a good book.  However, in an area such as patent law, a purchaser preparing to spend US$196 on a book may wish to be reassured that, at that price, he is purchasing more than the authors' thoughts.

As for the book itself, its ambit is set out clearly by the publishers:
"The 2005 Amendments to the Indian Patent Act expanded the scope of patentability by (among other provisions) allowing patenting of new substances brought about by incremental innovations. What exactly is an ‘incremental innovation’? And how does the amended Act alter the legal definition of patentable subject matter and restructure the essential criteria - utility, novelty, no prior publication, and non-obviousness - around which patent law revolves?

This masterful analysis of patent law in India, by two of India’s most distinguished jurists, investigates thoroughly the scope of the possible answers to these crucial questions. Recognizing the character of the revolution taking place in patent law globally under the regime of multinational corporations - and India’s central role in its development - Dr. Rao and Dr. Manjula Guru’s analysis focuses on the patenting of substances arising out of advances in biotechnology, genetically engineered products, and computer-related devices. But they do not neglect the practical details of application, registration, and proceedings as constituted under the amended law; in fact, this book is the most detailed and insightful procedural and practice guide to the subject we have".
The publishers conclude with the following boast:
"No legal, administrative, or business professional in any of the many areas touched by patent law - not only in India, and elsewhere - can afford to bypass this deeply-informed study of a topic of huge global significance. Corporate counsel seeking an Indian patent will find no better guide".
It is plain from the book's content that the authors are more highly focused on issues such as policy regarding what should be patentable and how patented matter should be made more widely available under mechanisms such as TRIPS than on the detail of procedural matters and patent litigation itself.  Once the large amount of comparative material, looking at US and UK/EU law and practice, is stripped out, it would appear from this volume that Indian patent law has much less substance to it than a reader of SPICY IP might imagine.  This reviewer does not feel that this book matches the claims made for it and hopes that, when a second edition is published, both the title and the publisher's blurb more closely match its contents.

The eight-times-a-year Journal of Business Law (JBL), published by Sweet & Maxwell, carries an interesting article entitled "Arbitration of Patent Disputes in Turkey" by Armagan Ebru Bozkurt Yüksel. This piece looks at public policy, jurisdictional and procedural issues and will be handy for anyone facing a contentious patent matter to settle in Turkey.  The author's critical appraisal of patent arbitration rules and their operation in Turkey is likely to leave readers with the strong impression that, unless the matter is a simple one and the parties can keep firm control of costs, logistics and enforcement, litigation before the courts (Turkey's Decree-Law No. 551 on the Protection of Patent Rights, in force from June 27, 1995, provides for special courts for the resolution of patent disputes).

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