Having had a client whose blueprint for a very hush-hush new radar system was copied and manufactured by the potential customer they were in discussions with in the Far East , I’ve witnessed the problems connected with holding on to intellectual property rights. (See below two new books on the subject). That incident happened over ten years ago and still other similar battles are erupting all over the globe.

The scope of the problems surrounding intellectual property rights in our globalised world is vast – how far can copyright and patent-holders go in preventing others from taking their property? Intellectual property protection is not a field of bright lines and clear rules. And, the economic consequences of the dispute are also immense.

In San Francisco, the music industry tried to take down Napster, a service that allowed users to swap digital music files over the Internet. In this case, the courts agreed that Napster’s file-sharing technology violated music copyrights. Across the Atlantic, advocates of “software libre” are introducing legislation in several European parliaments to give preferences in government procurement to software that can be freely copied and distributed. The Eurolinux Alliance argues that only free software “preserves privacy, individual liberties, and the right for every citizen to access public information.”

Unfortunately for those dealing with the Far East, that region has a very different take on IP from people in the West. Confucius, the world-renowned great thinker in Chinese intellectual history, passed on a moral and ethical code that has long influenced the ways of that part of the world. He believed that ideas once in a book were for the public domain and belonged to everyone, so the Chinese have never grown up with the concept of copyright. In reality, IP wars can be argued to be the tussle between the intercultural dimension of Individualism and Communitarianism. Knowledge and ideas are seen as one’s own indivuidual property in the west. So, cross-cultural differences exist.

Two recent books on the subject of International Intellectual Property Law are available which will be of interest to those working in this field:

Global Challenge of Intellectual Property Rights, Bird, R. & Jain, S.C. (pub: Edward Elgar, 2008). The publisher’s blurb states:

The importance of intellectual property rights is now well established as a vital component in the success of firms and nations. The diverse contributors to this volume, drawn from the fields of law, business and economics, clarify and analyze the problems and promise of IP policy from a global perspective. They discuss both developed and emerging nations and advance the understanding of this increasingly important topic .

The articles address issues from an interdisciplinary focus with an emphasis on current topical issues. Topics addressed include intellectual rights protection in emerging nations such as China, an exploration of a specific cross-national intellectual property perspective, strategies for protecting intellectual property rights, and a guide to understanding emerging and non-western legal systems. A mix of theoretical and practical observations helps the reader navigate the increasingly international topic of intellectual property as well as offers strategies for optimal utilization of intellectual property assets. The volume serves well both as a solution-oriented book and as a tool for facilitating further discussion and analysis in the classroom.”

Global Intellectual Property Law, Dutfield, G. & Suthersan, U. (pub: Edward Elgar, 2008). The publisher’s blub states:

Globalisation of trade means that intangible informational resources are now produced, bartered and consumed anywhere and everywhere defying jurisdictional borders. Intellectual property has moved into the mainstream of national economic and developmental planning; in the recent past it has also emerged as the central impetus in multilateral trade relations. The authors of this original and progressive textbook trace the evolving remits of intellectual property, which are rapidly expanding to embrace new subject matter and increase the scope of protection. This creates conflicts with current trade, development, cultural, ethical, human rights and economic mores.

This book reflects on intellectual property as it stands at the crossroads of these values. It considers the challenges presented by such developments as the commodification of persona, the commons, and life itself. Most significantly perhaps, the book examines the impact of intellectual property on the international stage, especially in respect of trade, development, economics and biological and cultural diversity. It is sure to become an invaluable reference work for scholars and students of intellectual property, international law, public policy, politics, government, human rights and development, as well as legal practitioners”.

Bibliographical details:

Global Challenge of Intellectual Property Rights: edited by Robert Bird (Assistant Professor of Business Law, University of Connecticut, US) and Subhash C. Jain (Professor of International Marketing, Director, Center for International Business Education and Research, Wisconsin School of Business).  Publisher Edward Elgar, 2008. Hardback, ISBN 978 1 84720 360 1. Ebook (ISBN 978 1 84844 488 . 1).

Global Intellectual Property Law, Graham Dutfield (Professor of International Governance and Co-Director, Centre for International Governance, University of Leeds) and Uma Suthersanen (Reader in Intellectual Property Law and Policy, School of Law, Queen Mary, University of London).  Published Edward Elgar, 2008. Hardback. ISBN 978 1 84376 942 2. Ebook ISBN 978 1 84844 386 0

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 at 12:56 pm and is filed under cost of getting it wrong, General, international business . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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