I was privileged to be invited to the celebration of Prof. Guo Shoukang’s 65th year of teaching law on Sunday September 15, 2013. Prof. Guo has had a remarkable career in Chinese intellectual property, civil law and Chinese intellectual history. The celebration was also a book warming for Guo Shoukang Selection of Legal Writings (郭寿康法学文选 Intellectual Property Press, 923 pp).
Now in his 87th year, Prof. Guo remains extremely active and alert. He continues to advise students. In addition, he serves as a member of the experts committee on China’s copyright law reform, is preparing an oral history of his work, and continues to translate foreign IP scholarship into Chinese. Prof. Guo has always been a leading proponent of both intellectual property and rule of law. One speaker at this event praised his singlehanded defense of the enactment of a patent law in the early 1980’s as a key component of China’s need to develop its science and technology and opening to the West. This effort was made over an extended period of time, at a time when China’s opening up policies were still unstable. SIPO Commisioner Tian Lipu, who could not attend personally, also praised Professor Guo’s key role in educating him and other Chinese officials on the once-new field of intellectual property. Dean Liu Chuntian of Renmin University’s IP faculty noted there are few individuals in China that can claim to span the time frame in law and intellectual life from China’s Republican period to the current time. Dean Liu described how Prof. Guo lived across a courtyard from Hu Shi, one of China’s leading intellectuals of the 20th century and a proponent of China’s literary revolution of May 4, 1919. Prof. Guo knew Hu Shi while he was teaching commercial law at Peking University in the late 1940’s, which was 65 years ago.
Among the many programs that I did with Prof. Guo, two stand out in my mind: one was an interview we did together on CCTV’s Dialogue in 2009 on IP Protection in a Globalized World. At age 85, Prof. Guo was a fierce advocate of the importance of IP and challenged the interviewer for not believing in China’s own capacity to innovate and its need to protect its own inventions. On a more personal note, in 2007, I had invited Prof. Guo to my house to celebrate Passover with my family. I believe no other Chinese friend was as inquisitive and appreciative of that event, which we talked about for years after.
In the introduction to Prof. Guo’s new book, Prof. Joseph Straus of the Max Planck Institute, described Prof. Guo as “doubtless the most respected and best known expert in intellectual property of his country. This is clearly evidenced by his numerous offices and recognitions at a national as well as international level. …No wonder that he has a worldwide fan community, including myself.” I am also privileged to be among the fan club of Prof. Guo Shoukang. Long life!