Good books on IP are not something I see everyday. Especially books that appeal to both lawyers and laypeople, with something to teach any reader. To my delight, therefore, I was provided a review copy of A History of Intellectual Property in 50 Objects, published by Cambridge Press. What makes the book fascinating is how it tells the story of IP through consideration of various known and less-well-known objects, while arcing over time and space in the process. In doing so, the book promises to make an outsized contribution to one of the pressing challenges of our time: increasing IP literacy, both in the legal world and more importantly, in the general public. The book helps further that goal through its structure and content; no reader could walk away without a greater appreciation for, if not a greater interest in, how IP impacts on the products and ideas that shape our lives. Put simply, I believe this book is a must-own for any IP lawyer, to read on their own and to distribute to those for whom additional IP literacy would be of benefit. Which is a lot of people…
Having had the opportunity to review such a unique offering, I was very excited to also get a chance to conduct a written interview with the authors, Professors Claudy Op den Kamp of Bournemouth University and Dan Hunter of Swinburne Law School. Professor Op den Kamp is a Senior Lecturer in Film and a faculty member at the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and Management (CIPPM) at Bournemouth University and Adjunct Research Fellow at Swinburne Law School, Australia. She has previously worked as Haghefilm Conservation’s Account Manager, as a Film Restoration Project Leader at the Nederlands Filmmuseum, and as a senior research assistant in the film restoration research project DIASTOR at the Department of Film Studies at the Universität Zürich. Her monograph, The Greatest Films Never Seen: The Film Archive and the Copyright Smokescreen, was published in 2018. Her co-editor, Dan Hunter, is the founding dean of Swinburne Law School, Australia. He is an international expert in internet law, intellectual property, and artificial intelligence models of law. He has previously held positions at QUT Law School, New York Law School, Melbourne Law School, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and University of Cambridge. He is the author of Intellectual Property (2012) and co-author of For The Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business (2012).
As you will see below, Professors Op den Kamp and Hunter share some interesting insights on their new book, as well as their hopes for it to contribute to increased IP literacy amongst its readership. As usual, I have added some brief commentary to the answers below and in next week’s second installment, but have otherwise presented their answers as they provided them.
Immediately below are my written questions and their answer to my first question on IP literacy:
1) In my view, this book is a welcome contribution to bridging the gap between the importance of IP in our lives and public knowledge of IP issues — what I have called in the past the need for “IP literacy.” How important is increasing IP literacy in the general public?
Thanks so much for the kind words. And we couldn’t agree more with the observations about IP literacy.
The book came about in an interesting way. Initially, we wanted to just do a simple history of the IP system. But when we sat down to try to tell the way that IP has evolved, we were confronted with a range of problems: IP itself is intangible, the laws creating it are arcane and complex, and the area is often seen as boring and impossible to understand. And yet, the IP system is one of the most important structuring systems in modern society, and it underpins vast industries such as aerospace, architecture, pharmaceuticals, media, and entertainment.
In short, IP is the most important thing that most people know nothing about. So, when we sat down together to plan the book, we decided that we wanted to convey to everyday readers and specialists alike, just why IP matters so much, and why it’s so interesting. We very much wanted the everyday reader to become IP literate and understand just how much of the world in which we live is created by IP.
GK: Cue the proverbial music to my ears about our authors agreeing about the need for IP literacy. Even better is that the work they have created is a fantastic contribution towards addressing that issue, with something to appeal to every reader. Whether it is varied topics, beautiful photographs, or broad-ranging discussion of all the important IP legal disciplines, this book makes thinking about IP seem worthwhile. At the same time, it is very interesting to consider that we have non-American co-authors and educators agreeing that IP literacy is something that people worldwide can benefit from. That is a simple truth in today’s global economy and suggests that those countries that do a better job of making their populace more IP literate will likely enjoy greater success going forward. A more compelling case for national investment in IP literacy is hard to imagine.
Next week, we will conclude our interview with Professors Op den Kamp and Hunter, with their thoughts on globalization, and the importance of teaching IP by “showing” it wherever possible.
Please feel free to send comments or questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter: @gkroub. Any topic suggestions or thoughts are most welcome.
Gaston Kroub lives in Brooklyn and is a founding partner of Kroub, Silbersher & Kolmykov PLLC, an intellectual property litigation boutique, and Markman Advisors LLC, a leading consultancy on patent issues for the investment community. Gaston’s practice focuses on intellectual property litigation and related counseling, with a strong focus on patent matters. You can reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @gkroub.
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