Lecturing at Zhongnan University


As I mentioned in a previous post, I was invited to visit China by the President of Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, to lecture to graduate students in the Center for Studies of Intellectual Property Rights (referred to as the IP center, or the IPRCN). This visit was coordinated by Professor Llew Gibbons, who is a Fulbright Lecturer at Zhongnan University. I was asked to lecture to Professor Gibbons's students, all of whom are law school graduates at the university to obtain either a masters or Ph.D. in intellectual property law. He is teaching a survey course on U.S. intellectual property law, and so I used the opportunity to lecture on two issues: the derivative work right under the U.S. Copyright Act, which led nicely into my second lecture on IP protection for data stored in radio frequency identification chips (RFID).


I was very impressed by the knowledge and interest of the students. They were well schooled in the basics of U.S. IP law, participated in class discussions, and asked excellent questions. Obviously Professor Gibbons had done a great job over the last few months teaching the students, getting them over their fears of talking in class. My favorite part of the RFID lecture was when one student stood up (they all stood when asking or answering questions - I should make my US students do that!) and told me he disagreed with my analysis. In fact I had skipped over an issue on database protection under US copyright law in order to shorten the presentation, and the student caught the leap in the logic. What was impressive is that even though Chinese students generally believe that it is rude to disagree with a professor, this student had become comfortable enough in this class to be able to challenge the information being provided. We had a great exchange, and it allowed us to tease out a more nuanced issued related to U.S. copyright law, and allowed me to compare U.S. law and EU law. We then discussed what the Chinese position on database protection was (similar to U.S. law, as it turns out). It was a great teaching moment for the student and the class, and a neat experience for me. I look forward to teaching the students at the IPRCN, should I be fortunate enough to be invited back.