Lars S. Smith's blog
Today we visited Yunnan University, and one of our presentations was by Dean Chen Yundong, dean of the of Yunnan University Law School. Dean Chen (Yunnan) was a Fulbright from 2006-07 at American University in Washington. So I have now had the pleasure to meet two law school deans named Chen! His is the first picture.(Dean Chen (Louisville) was also a Fulbright in Iceland, btw). Yunnan University was established in 1922, and it's founder and first faculty sought to establish it as an international university. The second picture is of a room in the Imperial Examination Building, located on campus, where people would take the Imperial Exam to work for the government. They had to stay in the room, without leaving, for 3 days. The bucket in the corner served an obvious purpose. And you thought the bar exam was hard! The third picture is of the building where the examiners graded the exams to see who would be allowed to travel to Beijing to take the final examination.
We also had lectures from several American Fulbright Young Research Scholar grantees, who are here doing research on such issues as Chinese Tobacco usage, Chinese Minorities education issues, teaching drama to Chinese university students, and studying issues in organic and sustainable agriculture. A very impressive bunch.
We've been in Kunming since Saturday, where the US State Department is hosting the Fulbright training program for those of us on half-year Fulbrights. Kunming is a city in western China, reportedly with the highest number of indigenous ethnic minorities (reported at 54 or so), so it is a very diverse city. We are staying at the Green Lake Hotel, near a lake which apparently is named Emerald Green Lake in Chinese. We started with presentations by various officers in the Chengdu consulate, focussing on such issues as political, legal, cultural and environmental issues in China, as well as the consular services provided to US citizens, and Chinese students seeking visas to study in the US. One interesting point: there is no maximum number of student visas set, and last year 130,000 Chinese students came to the US last year to study (15,000 US students came to China in 2009). The presentation by the Environmental, Science, Technology and Health officer on environmental issues in China was also fascinating. Two points stuck out: First, China has some serious environmental challenges to deal with, and second, the China has committed to be a leader in clean energy technology (issues discussed by US Ambassador John Huntsman at presentations in China as well see: http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn/ambassador_speeches.html).
On the teaching front, the Fulbright program also brought in the current full-year Fulbrighters to present on their experiences from their first six months in China. One theme that came through was the need to be flexible. One surprising difference is that often much of the planning for events is done only a short time in advance. This includes course schedules. A number of the faculty only found out a few days a head of time what they were going to teach. The other issue is the challenge to have students participate in class, something that, at least in law school, is an expectation. However, we have to be mindful of the challenge for our students of taking a course in a second language, and then to be expected to speak extemporaneously on a topic.
I leave you with a picture from Green Lake Park from this morning. The park was filled with people dancing and doing Tai Chi.
I am staying in Hong Kong for a few days before traveling to Kunming, China for my Fulbright in-country orientation. While touring the city, I came upon several legal structures from the period when Britain controlled Hong Kong. I have posted three of them here. First is Government House, residence of the British Governor until the hand over of Hong Kong to China in 1997. It is now the residence of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. Second is the former Central Police Station, located interestingly on Hollywood Road. Finally is the Magistracy, which formerly housed the Magistrates Court. These last two structures were part of a compound that also included Victoria Prison and were linked by underground tunnels. I read online that you could be arrested, tried, and serve time, all without seeing the light of day!
Seeing these buildings made me think about the current structure of the Hong Kong legal system. Despite being a part of China, Hong Kong is actually designated a Special Administrative Region, which under the 1984 treaty signed by Britain and China created the "one country, two systems" principle. This treaty created the Basic Law, which for Hong Kong operates as form of constitution. The Basic Law maintains the legal system created under British rule, including the existing court-made common law and rules of equity, and the right to self governance except on matters of foreign affairs and defense. One interesting consequence of the one country, two systems principle is that I have not formally entered China yet. When I leave Hong Kong to travel to Kunming, I will be entering the People's Republic of China for the first time.
We're on our way! I am sitting in Chicago O'Hare airport waiting for the 12:32 flight to Hong Kong.
As I mentioned, I have set up a Twitter account that is linked to this blog. The Twitter Account is LarsSSmith. Boring, I know, but accurate. Anyway, when I post on here, apparently the internet tubes will be linked between this blog site and my Twitter account. At least that is what our Cybrarian Virginia Mattingly Smith says!
One thing I hope will happen is that I can start a dialogue between my US students and my Chinese students. Please email me with your questions. I start teaching on February 22, and I would be glad to ask my new students any questions that you may have. And even though the class is on US intellectual property law, I would imagine there is an opportunity to broaden the discussion.
EDIT: oh, and I have no idea what the netiquette is for posting on Twitter, so any advice will be much appreciated.
Over the last couple of weeks, my family and I have been working hard to get ready for our Fulbright trip to Wuhan, China. On Saturday, we had some Chinese food and got the following fortune in a fortune cookie:
I'm still trying to determine whether being "unusual successful" is a good or a bad thing. I guess it's better than boring successful, although that's been my goal until now.
In the next day or two, I will post some more information about my trip. I plan to blog regularly, for those of you who are interested.
The team of Justin Capps, Mari-Elise Gates and Marilyn Osborn won the Southern Regional competition in the Saul F. Lefkowitz Trademark Moot Court Competition held in Atlanta this weekend. They managed this by being awarded Best Brief and Best Oralists in the region and thus, BEST OVERALL!
This year, the teams were coached by Adjunct Professor Jack Wheat, of Stites & Harbison, in preparation for oral arguments.
The team will travel to Washington, D.C., to argue in the finals at the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.
Congratulations and best of luck!
On Monday, November 9, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the Bilski case, which is an appeal dealing with the the question of patentability of business method patents. A friend of mine that is a patent attorney in New York sent me the transcript. In reading the transcript, it appears to me that Attorney Jakes, arguing for the petitioner, Bilski, did a better job of presenting his case. His reasoning was simple, and clearly explained: Any process that is new and non-obvious, and occurs in the physical world, should be patentable. Attorney Stewart, arguing for the government's position, did not make as clear a presentation, and his explanations were somewhat convoluted, I thought.
But that may be unfair to attorney Stewart. Jakes's argument was basically, there are no limits to the subject matter of what is patentable as a process, except that the process may not exist solely in a person's mind. That is an attractively simple rule, but possibly way beyond the scope of what Congress intended in the Patent Act. Stewart had the harder argument to make: If not every new and non-obvious process is patentable, where do you draw the line? Jakes was arguing, in effect, there is no line. That's easy. Line drawing is much harder.
What do you think?
From today's Daily Docket:
The Second Annual Conference on Innovation and Communication Law, hosted this year by the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law, came to a successful close on Saturday, August 22. The two-day conference featured over 50 speakers from four different continents around the world and from local law firms, discussing the role intellectual property and communications law play in the dissemination of information. Professors Cross and Smith, the faculty sponsors for the conference, want to thank everyone involved for their hard work which helped make the conference such a success. They would particularly like to thank Becky Wenning and Vickie Tencer for their assistance in planning and coordinating everything from the logistics of bringing in the speakers to arranging the event at the Marriott; and Jim Becker and Joe Leitsch for ensuring that the technology worked smoothly. They would also like to thank the many students involved in the conference as well, including Mike Swansburg, Mari-Elise Gates and Brian Stempian. None of this would have been possible without everyone's hard work. Well done and thank you!