Book Review: Intellectual Property
Text and Essential Cases
Authors: Rocque Reynolds, Natalie Stoinanoff and Alpana Roy
Publisher: The Federation Press
Reviewer: Brian Morgan
I have had the pleasure of reviewing an earlier edition of this excellent book.
When one sees the words, “Text and Essential Cases”, the impression often arises that this is a textbook aimed at students. Let me say that this is not the case with this book. Indeed, the authors exhort the reader to explore beyond its contents, using them as a springboard for further research.
The topic of Intellectual Property law is not one that fits readily into the comfort zone of most lawyers. I digress to recall that, some years ago, I heard a Court of Appeal, in another State, discussing how the chain brake works in a chain saw. Without evidence to support their collective analysis of this tool, they used that knowledge to resolve the appeal. Having spent hundreds of hours using a chain saw, I shook my head in disbelief. That such evidence had not been produced at trial defied understanding.
When one looks at Intellectual Property cases, there is often the perception that neither the lawyers involved nor the judges have a detailed understanding of the topic. If the lawyers don’t understand, their submissions to the Court cannot be as helpful or complete as they might otherwise be.
I say this because my analysis of some of the decisions and comments referred to by the authors tends to suggest that Courts are finding it difficult to grasp the complex factual and user issues that arise in this area of the law.
This book is divided into five parts, the first of which is a short introduction, the second, (in 243 pages), deals with the principles of copyright and neighbouring rights, Part iii with Patents, Part iv with Passing Off, Trade Marks and Related Actions and Part v with Designs, Plant Breeder’s Rights, Circuit Layouts and Confidential Information.
In each of the areas, we see that there are divergent opinions held among various countries and, indeed, even within Australia as to such basic questions as what constitutes a painting, what is a sculpture and what is an engraving. It is thought provoking, at the very least, to carefully consider the authors’ comments and footnotes. Like all good textbooks, they invite a raised eyebrow at some decisions.
The field of Intellectual Property law is fast evolving. There have been significant decisions made since 2012 when the fourth edition was published. I commend this book to practitioners, including those who have never turned their minds to this field of law. Through ignorance, many lawyers may not recognise potential issues that might be beneficially explored on behalf of their clients.
The theme of the introduction is “Opening your eyes to I.T” This is a very apt description.