China IPR

Back to School on Chinese IP

Law schools in North America will soon be back in session, and I thought it would be a useful to do a roundup of academic programs on Chinese IP, focusing on programs for United States students.  Based on data and my own personal experience, the pipeline of talented young American law students who are interested in IP and speak Chinese remains thin, especially when compared to the rapid growth of interest in China-IP related activities.  However, as this blog suggests, it is growing.

Generally speaking, the place to find Chinese law course offerings at US law schools is on the list of Chinese Law Courses Offered by North American Law Schools maintained by Luo Wei at Washington University.  Although Prof. Luo’s lists only one IP class in North America – the three credit survey course which I am now teaching at Fordham, there’s more going on at this time.

Among current credit bearing offerings, John Marshall is now offering a summer program in China on IP, which includes a Chinese IP law component, taught by a professor at Renmin University.    Prof.  Benjamin Liu is also teaching a course on Innovation in the US and China at JMLS in Chicago.  Former SIPO Commissioner Gao Lulin also runs a one week course at JMLS each year on Chinese IP law.

An introduction to Chinese IP Law is also offered by the University of New Hampshire, as noted on its website:   The University of New Hampshire/Franklin Pierce Law Center (FPLC) has a China Intellectual Property Summer Institute which it runs at Tsinghua University, which focuses on international IP issues, but has included Chinese IP classes.  Prof. Bill Hennessey, who is now Emeritus at FPLC, used to run this program.   The program did not run this past summer, but Prof. Mary Wong, who now runs the FPLC is interested in exploring this and other options involving China.

Robert Hu at St. Mary’s University Law School teaches a summer survey class on Chinese IP law in conjunction with St. Mary’s summer program at Beihang University, covering all relevant rights and enforcement remedies.

There are also several new institutions in place: John Marshall has set up a China IP Resource Center.  The new John & Marilyn Long U.S.- China Institute for Business and Law at the U.C-Irvine law school, has a focus on intellectual property and has included IP issues in its proposed research agenda.

Fordham has a series of programs on Chinese law and IP, including a separate China day as part of its international IP program, an annual joint IP conference, and various seminars, such as a recently concluded mini-conference on Chinese copyright reform (July 25).  Although a formal China IP or China law center has not been established, the faculty includes long-time China hands such as Whitmore Gray, Frank Chiang, Carl Minzner, Tom Kellogg,  Elizabeth Wickeri, Martin Flaherty, Ken Davis, George Conk and myself, and works closely with other New York area law schools on China matters, all of which help support a robust range of Chinese law programs, including IP, as well as exchanges with a number of China-based schools.

There is also a China IP moot court for Chinese and US law students run by the Beijing Foreign Studies University.  The program is run in late May of each year, is based on Chinese law and is conducted in English.  Most of the teams are from Chinese law schools, but some US law schools, such as De Paul, compete.

At Fordham this year, we did a joint moot court on a hypothetical appeal of the DS/362 the “IPR Enforcement case” involving China, as part of a class combining an international trade law class and a Chinese law class, which was also quite successful, and which we expect to offer again in the future.

George Washington University Law School does not currently offer a Chinese IP class per se, but one has been suggested in conjunction with their annual summer program at the Munich Intellectual Property Law Center (MIPLC).  GW has also cooperated with Fordham in an annual series on Chinese IP, a second installment of which is planned for January.  With both CAFC Chief Judge Rader and Dean Whealan on the faculty, including recent cooperative efforts with Tongji University in China, there will no doubt be even more activity.

Other schools, such as UC-Berkeley, are also in the planning stages for programs this year, while University of Washington reportedly has a contingent of Chinese judges at its annual summer IP program this year (CASRIP).

There are also several courses on comparative IP law or Asian law which include a China component.   Tom Moga, a former Fulbrighter in China, teaches “Asian Patent Practice” at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School.  ZANG Dongsheng at the University of Washington is co-teaching on Intellectual Property in East Asia. His colleagues include former Microsoft attorney Joy Xiang,  Toshiko Takenaka and Signe B. Naeve.   Daniel Chow at Ohio State teaches international intellectual property.  Seagull Song, a Chinese IP lawyer, is a visiting professor at Loyola Law School where she teaches Chinese law and licensing.  Peter Yu at Drake University teaches a Chinese law segment as part of his international IP class. Ben Templin at Thomas Jefferson School of Law teaches IP law at a summer program at Zhejiang University, which includes Chinese IP materials along with other materials from other jurisdictions.    Santa Clara’s summer program has a few lectures on Chinese IP program in Shanghai.

Technical cooperation on IP related issues has also gotten a bit more attention with the signing of a bilateral MOU between the U.S. and China.  Press reports note that the MOU also calls for increased cooperation on academic exchanges. See: , and (Chinese texts). Of course technical cooperation between the US and China on IP matters goes back to the late 1970’s.   Several schools have been engaged in hosting or training Chinese IP officials, including JMLS, Fordham, Berkeley, Yale, Cardozo, FPLC, Temple University, University of Washington, etc.

Compared to the United States, Europe is not lacking for expertise, but appears to be offering fewer courses to European law students.  Thomas Pattloch of Taylor Wessing notes that the following faculty have been involved in China IP matters in Germany: Bu Yuanshi  (University of Freiburg);  Peter Ganea (Goethe University of Frankfurt) , Katrin Blasik (Fachhochschule Heidelberg); and Frank Münzel (Hamburg University).  In addition, there have long been German ties on IP issues with China, notably SIPO-Commissioner TIAN Lipu not only has spent three years of his life in Munich and speaks excellent German, but also holds an honorary doctorate from the TUM School of Management. Prof. Dr. YU Xiang from Huazhong University of Science & Technology’s School of Management is the Director of the Chinese-German Institute for Intellectual Property there and cooperates with the MIPLC.

Benoit Missone, who used to help run the European IPR2 training program estimated in an email to me that there were approximately 15 Chinese students who were trained at the MIPLC. Some course instruction may also be offered in conjunction with the Masters in Chinese Law offered by the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

There are also several course offerings in China in English that are credit bearing for a Chinese degree.   This is quite a change from 30 years ago when my application for a scholarship with the National Academy of Sciences was denied because there was no indication that Chinese law faculties would permit me to engage with them in any meaningful way.  Today, Chinese schools are being encouraged to enter into these types of programs to increase their international exposure.  For example,  Renmin University offers a two-year Master’s Degree program in Chinese law, The Chinese University of Political Science and Law as a Master’s program in International Law. has an M.A. in Chinese business law which includes Chinese IP offerings. All of these programs use English language as the medium of instruction.  Students should check on how credits would transfer, if at all, for these and any other classes.

Of course, U.S. law students may also study overseas independently, frequently pursuant to bilateral MOU’s where they may be taking Chinese IP classes in English and Chinese.  Some students may also pursue matters independently.  Bryan Bachner, who formerly taught at Hong Kong City University, was one of the first Americans to receive his Ph.D. in law from a Chinese university (Wuhan).  His Ph.D. was on “Intellectual Property in China: the Modernization of Traditional Knowledge.”  Between teaching and studying, Bryan also found time to play professional basketball in China and Hong Kong.

Other programs of note: PTO has also just launched an intern program in its office of external affairs for the China team. The first intern this summer was Xie Dacheng, from University of Illinois.  When I was the IP Attaché at the US Embassy in Beijing (2004-2008), I also offered positions to interns from US law schools.  Law students from all over the United States were also invited to the recent FCBA program on judicial IP protection, co-hosted by Renmin University and the China Law Society, with the active support of USPTO, which I chaired in Beijing, China (May 2012).  There should be more opportunities of this type going forward, which can be especially valuable for those interested in IP policy-related work.

Opportunities for training no doubt will continue to grown inside and outside the classroom.   It is doubtful that Chinese legal studies, or even Chinese IP studies, can go back to a time when everyone seemed to know each other which existed in the 80’s.  However, there is also little doubt that there is increased need for exchanges, and that the opportunities to connect to each other can bring great professional dividends.

Have I missed something? Please comment or correct me here.

4 replies »

  1. Dear Professor Cohen,

    I just reviewed your article. it’s very impressive.

    I have one suggestion for your reference.

    You mentioned that several universities are increasing their international exposure. I think you possibly should put Tsinghua University in your list. Tsinghua University has two programs. One is a cooperation program between Tsinghua and Temple University. Another is master of laws program for international students,

    I appreciate what you have contributed to the IPers. We could find out what we wanted from your blog.

    With best regards,



    • Mark, Peking University has a LLM program in China IP offered in English language to overseas students. Professor Zhang Ping is leading this. I did one session in March for this class. The student body is quite impressive.


  2. Here’s an update: Prof. Seagull Song will be teaching a course on comparative copyright law (US and China) at Loyola in Los Angeles during the spring 2013 semester. In addition, the EU is negotiating IPR-3 — its third technical assistance program with China.


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