Inheritance Books: Mark Anderson

It’s world Intellectual Property (IP) day! As you may have guessed from reading Girl On The Run, IP plays a large part in my day job, so I thought we’d have a special Inheritance Books guest post from Mark Anderson from the fabulous IPdraughts blog – which discusses the nitty gritty of IP licensing in an accessible (often whimsical) way.

Welcome to Inheritance Books, Mark.While I get the tea and biscuits, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in Scotland to English parents. My sister has a Scottish accent, but mine is English. According to family legend, this is because Susan was a conformist, while I imitated my father.

ANDsept-71 (2)When I was 11, my parents moved from a terraced house in a Scottish New Town – East Kilbride – to an oversized Victorian mansion in the Scottish countryside. It was so large that no-one else wanted to buy it. A Glasgow solicitor built the house in 1855, at a time when the local railway station was still open, and a train could take you into the city in half an hour. In the 1980s, my parents sold the house to a Mr Singh, an interesting character who registered the first Sikh tartan with the Scottish authorities. Mr Singh kindly let me visit the house a few years ago, and I discovered that my bedroom, which had not been changed since I chose the decoration in the early 1970s, was now his prayer room. What this says about me, or him, I am not sure.

I was the first person in my family to go to university, to Durham where I studied law. Then I moved South again to London, to qualify as a barrister and later as a solicitor. Now I run a firm of solicitors, Anderson Law LLP, which I started over 21 years ago. Originally it was just me in my front room in Richmond, Surrey. Now we are based in Oxfordshire and employ 12 lawyers. We specialise in intellectual property transactions, and advise mostly universities and high-tech companies.

As well as providing legal services to clients, I have written half a dozen legal textbooks, most of which are now in their third editions, and run training courses for practitioners. I designed and lead a 5-day course on IP transactions, held annually at University College London. This course has won two awards: a Law Society Excellence Award (Highly Commended) and a UCL Provost’s Teaching Award.


Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?

My father was born in Stockwell, London, and left school at the age of 15. In 1944, he was apprenticed to a firm of theatrical set designers in South London, in which his father had been a partner. Unfortunately the firm closed a couple of years later; there was no longer a demand for the type of lavish West End shows that had been popular in the 1930s.

My father was a great fan of the novels of Graham Greene.  In the 1970s it was easy to find him a Christmas present, as Graham Greene was then writing a novel each year. I think what appealed to my father was their discussion of big themes like conscience and loyalty, and their dissection of character, all expressed in simple, direct language.

I have inherited his collection of Greene novels. From the books in the collection, I have chosen The Human Factor. It was published in 1978, so it could well have been one that the family bought him for Christmas. The novel was adapted to become a film in 1979, with a screenplay by Tom Stoppard. Like much of Greene’s work, it reminds me a little of John le Carre. But only a little. Each is good in their way, but Greene has more to say about the human condition than le Carre. Le Carre’s simpler style is easier to adapt into great films and TV series.

The attached photo show my collection of Greene novels, most of which I

Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why? 

With your permission, I would like to leave a set of books –Patrick O’Brien’s series of 20 novels set during the Napoleonic wars. I have read them in sequence, as though they were a single novel, several times. If forced to choose one of them, I would choose HMS Surprise. It is like the other novels, but supercharged with incident and emotion.

The novels tell a great story, as well as exploring a relationship between two men who are presented as very different: the bluff sea-captain, Captain Jack Aubrey of the Royal Navy, and the cerebral Stephen Maturin, physician and spy. In fact, they share many characteristics, though these are disguised by the obvious differences in their temperaments and vocations: they are both slightly apart from the establishment, but comfortable in it; they are both highly intelligent and compassionate; their resilience and determination brings them both, eventually, to the top of their respective professions.

In my view, these novels have far more to engage the reader than other books in the genre, such as CS Forester’s Hornblower series. Yet, as with the Greene/le Carre comparison, Forester’s simpler style makes for better adaptations into films. The film of O’Brian’s novel, Master and Commander, failed, in my view, to capture the heart of the novel.

Thanks for sharing your favourite books with us, Mark. Hope you have a really fun IP day. Another biscuit?

You can follow Mark’s posts on IP licensing on the IPdraughts blog and trade IP related puns with him on Twitter (@IPdraughts).

Previous IP day Inheritance books posts include those from patent attorney cum novelists Ivan Cotter and Kalyan Kankanala. There are a number of novels featuring patent attorneys – click here to see a list.

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