Archive for July 12th, 2011

Peter Groves. 2011. A Dictionary of Intellectual Property Law. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. 352pp. $155.00.

Although Peter Groves’ dictionary on intellectual property (IP) is not as thick as a typical dictionary, it packs of lot of information in its pages. It is an accessible and interesting reference work that belongs in collections relating to UK and international IP law. Researchers looking for a dictionary solely consisting of U.S. terms should look elsewhere.

In his entry on “intellectual property,” Groves notes that IP is “not a unitary area of law: it is a combination of several areas of law that had existed for years, and had often been practiced by the same people and which have long been studied together, but which did not form a single body of law.” (p. 162) This reality is evident throughout the book—for instance, the “Machine-or-Transformation Test,” a part of U.S. patent doctrine, appears barely a page away from “Magill,” a European Community case on competition in the use of IP rights. The entries are arranged alphabetically and irrespective of area of law, so browsing through the book one sees an interesting assortment of terms relating mostly to patent, trademark, and copyright law. Even concepts less commonly thought of in relation to IP appear, such as traditional knowledge, trade dress, indications of origin, and special protections for markings of the Olympics and Red Cross.

Each clearly and concisely written entry ranges from a couple sentences to just over a page. Occasionally Groves lightens his explanations with witty remarks (he notes that “Yorkshire Relish,” the sole entry under Y, is “useful for anyone trying to compile an alphabetical collection of expressions used in intellectual property law [.]” (p. 334)) In addition to discussing major terms of art, Groves covers important IP treaties, cases, and legislation.

The book focuses on European and international IP terms, though entries relating to other countries show up from time to time. Groves generally selects one definition for each term, even if that term has different meanings in different jurisdictions. For example, “format shifting” is described using UK law. Whether the term has different meanings in other jurisdictions is not noted. This is a minor quibble—including every possible sense of every term would surely balloon the book’s word count—but researchers should know that further searching may be needed if Groves does not mention the desired jurisdiction.

Groves includes many citations to both primary and secondary sources in the entries, such that a table of authorities would be a nice addition to a future edition. A companion website ( collects entries for terms that may be added in the next edition. Some entries relate to U.S. law, but Groves’ dictionary will be most useful to researchers interested in non-U.S. and international IP systems.

Reviewed by Benjamin J. Keele, Reference Librarian at the Wolf Law Library, College of William and Mary.

© 2011 Benjamin J. Keele. This work is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

July 2011

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