Joseph Kennedy, Wayne Watkins and Elyse Ball


2012 | 248pp | £40.50

ISBN 9781118369371

Patent law is complicated. There is no escaping this fact. An unfortunate consequence of this truth is that few outside the patent profession understand the subject well. This lack of awareness often extends to researchers whose work makes them inventors on patents, for whom patents are therefore immensely important. A book that explained patent law in plain terms for such an audience would be immensely welcome. This book is not it. 

My simple advice is – if you are based outside the US, do not read this book. Firstly, it is written completely from the US point of view. In fact, while the patent laws of many countries outside the US have much in common with each other, US patent law is different in many respects. To present patent law in such detail from the US perspective alone renders the book completely unsuitable for the non-US reader. There is little explanation, apart from a brief section in the confusing and inaccurate chapter Foreign patents, of which concepts are unique to the US and which ones find equivalents in other countries.

Secondly, even as an account of US patent law, the book has little to commend it. It is difficult to understand in many places, the selection of topics for coverage is peculiar, and is downright wrong in many details. To highlight just one example, the discussion of US ‘provisional’ patent applications overstates their benefits and dangerously understates their limitations, while asserting that they ‘remain secret’, whereas they are in fact available on the file of any patent application that claims their benefit. The suggestion that impoverished Eastern European inventors would be well-advised to file US provisional applications is particularly odd.

This book is more likely to confuse than inform and cannot be recommended.

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