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Flawed Representation

Publication Date: 
June 16, 2008
Washington Post
Patrick Anderson

Professor Paul Goldstein's new book, A Patent Lie, is reviewed by the Washington Post:

The author, Paul Goldstein, is a professor at Stanford Law School and an authority on intellectual property law, and among the novel's pleasures are his insights into lawyers and the games they play.

Here, for example, he reflects on the sexy judge: "Federal judges are usually smarter and more able than most of the lawyers who come before them and, with their lifetime tenure, possess a detachment not unlike the composure of a beautiful woman who knows the effect that her good looks have on men. Judge Farnsworth had both." Elsewhere, the sly old lawyer Thorpe, who adopts a melancholy mien in court, lightens up for a moment, whereupon: "Having now seen the phantom of a smile from this austere, sorrowful man, the jurors would work to please him if that was the price to see him smile once more."


This is a smart, challenging novel, closer to Scott Turow's work than John Grisham's. The author tries to make things clear, but the complexities of patent law and of the conspiracy at the heart of the lawsuit will be more readily grasped by lawyers than by the rest of us. Still, the lay reader may well be swept along by the plot and graceful writing even if he or she doesn't understand every legal point.