WHAT IS AN IDEA?
HERE IS SOME GREAT INSPIRATION ON MODERN INTELLECTUAL RIGHTS
An appreciation by Elizabeth Robson Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers and Phillip Taylor MBE, Head of Chambers
and Reviews Editor, “The Barrister”
Some really esoteric concepts are on show in this interesting and rather off-beat legal book written by Niels van Dijk and coming to us from the Edward Elgar Publishing stable of first-class, high level texts designed to make us think.
Van Dijk is to be congratulated on his rather different approach to intellectual property rights and the substantial amount of tensions which can arise where disputes occur over an idea. For, as he poses, what is an idea? He gives lots of reasons and some excuses are given which are “motivational” although do read this remarkable collection of his views.
The purpose behind this work is that, in the author’s words, he “applies a novel conflict-based approach to the notions of ‘idea’, ‘concept’, ‘invention’ and ‘immateriality’ in the legal regime of intellectual property rights by turning to the adversarial legal practices in which they occur”. Yes, a somewhat long-winded mission statement but quite novel in the way it approaches the subject-matter.
So, what we get with this book are “extensive ethnographies of the courts and law firms” although we had difficulty understanding the meaning of this phrase for the purposes of practicalities. Van Dijk reviews classical questions on legal doctrine (jurisprudence and legal theory) covering “the immaterial nature of intellectual property rights from a thoroughly new perspective”, and it is one, we suspect, that has not really been thought-through before!
For the IP specialist, we travel through the legal proceedings of disputes in patent, copyright and trademark law as the journey takes us “from the sites of enterprises, through the offices of law firms, the court registry, the courtroom and the judge’s office, until they finally arrive at judgment” - the author’s words, as you might guess and you get a flavour of his overall text style!
Van Dijk’s purpose is to visit the “central matters of a dispute” which are “gradually transformed into immaterial works, inventions, or signs through the ceaseless ‘material’ operations of legal practices” – all grist to the IP mill, naturally.
What we found most useful was the light the author sheds on “how seemingly abstract philosophical notions are rendered workable as concrete legal concepts with important consequences”. And expressed in this rabid prose, he means (we think) how we as lawyers protect your ideas- and we are given plenty of creative ideas how!!
To sum up this high-quality text, “Grounds of the Immaterial” gives us, the readers, what we want… “an inventive and refreshing take on intellectual property rights which will be valued by academics and students in philosophy, legal theory, legal anthropology and intellectual property”.