Tuesday, June 26, 2007

European Intellectual Property Teacher’s Network Workshop

Yesterday I spent most of the day in Aston Business School, where it took place the European Intellectual Property Teachers’ Network Workshop, event that was supported by the European Patent Office. The event officially started on Sunday when the Pre-Conference dinner was held in the ABS. I will repeat it again, but it is important to say that the whole thing was superbly organized by Claire Howell (Aston Business School) and Duncan Matthews (Queen Mary, University of London).
Monday started at 9 with Claire and Duncan’s welcome words, which were followed by Stephen Rowan’s (Director of Industrial Property Policy in the Intellectual Property and Innovation Directorate of the UK Intellectual Property Office) keynote address “Is the Intellectual Property System Fit for the purpose in an Era of Globalization, Digitalization and Increasing Economic Specialisation? The address was too interesting and rich to try to synthesise it here, but one issue that particularly caught my attention was the ongoing conversation between the EPO, the USPTO and the Japanese Patent Office to “recognize” their searches when they handle application for the same invention from the same person. Taking into account the very poor quality of too many US patents, what normally and theoretically might look like a sensible idea becomes a worrisome one. However, Stephen reassured the audience that the idea would go further only if the quality of the patents could be guaranteed.
The keynote was followed by the first session, which was focused on Interdisciplinary IP Teaching. It started with Robert Pitkethly from Oxford University, who made some interesting proposals about narrowing the gap between the education received by those in the IP profession and those in the management area who manage intangible (IP based) assets. One of the proposed solutions consists of placing IP contents within general management modules to avoid having full-IP modules that the will-be managers refuse to take and vice-versa for IP professionals. Next was the time of Michael Kort from the University of Augsburg to reflect on “The Necessity of Interdisciplinary IP Teaching”, by explaining how that had been achieved in Germany through the Munich Intellectual Property Law Center. The MIPLC is a project of the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition and Tax Law, the University of Augsburg, the Technische Universität München, and the George Washington University Law School and it has a LLM program that in addition of covering all areas of European and international intellectual property also include topics from related fields such as economics and business administration. Finally, the session ended with Kevin Scally’s (University College Cork) “Explaining the patent industry to business students; what should we tell the kids?”, where he claimed that teaching only what the law says and is in patents leave out of the picture the fact that a lot of it has nothing to do with innovation, inventors or industry’s development but with the patent industry itself. He went on by saying that non-strictly legal issues should be incorporated into IP (patents in particular) teaching to non-law students because the orthodox view supported the growth of the patent industry, which benefits by having more patents filled and registered regardless of whether the patent gives any advantage to the inventor, company or implies any advancement for the society.
After a strictly enforced 15 minutes coffee break, the second session on IP Teaching and Copyright started with Ronan Deazley (University of Birmingham) talking about “[…]Teaching the History of Intellectual Property and Why it Matters”, where after giving examples on the development of IP legislation in the past (and introducing the Primary Sources on Copyright project, awesome!) he explained how history of copyright can not only help to introduce current topics but it can also be used to deconstruct certain accepted truths about IP in general. Ronan was followed by Willem Grosheide from the Utrecht University, who further gave a European flavour to the meeting and explained how IP rights could be taught with a focus on human rights. The session and the morning came to a close with Maureen O’Sullivan (National University of Ireland, Galway) who departed slightly from her original “Teaching Copyleft and Creative Commons in a Copyright-riddled Academic World” to explain teaching techniques and tricks she used in her IP class in the university (and inviting all of us to join her students in the pub next time).
After the lunch recess the afternoon started with Marielle Piana’s (European Patent Academy of the European Patent Office) address on “IP teaching landscape in Europe”. Marielle introduced some data taken from a study carried out by the Academy about the extent and type of patent teaching in Europe, explained what was what the Academy taught and ended for asking teachers for a closer collaboration with the Academy.
Session 3, on IP Teaching and Issue-Based Learning, was initiated by Eva Nathusius (TUM Business School, Technische Universitat Munchen) who gave a clear and detailed account of the use of a real case-study to teach IP issues in her school. The idea of creating such case-studies (nobody seemed to clain that it was a cheap thing to do) entusiasmated many and I was kept wondering whether a repository of them with some form of licencing would be possible…Christopher Wadlow, University of East Anglia, gave his recount of an “Experience of Problem Based Learning in Two Taught Postgraduate Intellectual Property Units at the University of East Anglia”, and here again the impression was conveyed that issue-based learning and teaching has a lot to offer to both law and non-law students facing the complexities of IP law. This third session ended with Jo Stanley (Anglia Ruskin University) and her “Law into Technologists OK, Technology into Lawyers Won’t Go”, where she explained how the teaching of IP can be carried out following the basic logic used by people on the technology side of this matter and by doing so both lawyers and non-lawyers would increase the understanding of the technical part of IP issues.
The last session was on “Approaches to IP Teaching”, which started with Akalemwa Ngenda (University of Kent) and his “[…] Lamentations of a Journeyman”. In a very colloquial and calm manner, he went through different experiences and the impact that some trends towards a client-corporation relation was having in higher education in general and IP teaching in particular. He was followed by Catherine Colston (University of Strathclyde) and her “Teaching IP by ‘Virtual Means’”, where she explained and demonstrated how her classes were taught via Internet and webcasts, and how the results have been more positive and encouraging than some people thought originally (Charlotte Waelde, also with vast experience in distance learning, asked her a question about the cost but it seems that through it own Learning Technologies group or unit things are well covered in Strathclyde). The last speaker presenter was Spyros Maniatis (Queen Mary, University of London) who draw from the wealth of his own experience to show how practitioners and academics can and do collaborate to then conclude that collaboration was not only possible but necessary.
The day ended with Claire and Duncan words explaining the next steps, which will include setting up a website and expand the network across Europe. Again, the organisation was excellent and Claire and Duncan have set up a very high standard for those that will organise the workshop next year…

PS: Julian Webb also wrote about the day in his blog


P.R.K said...

Dear Dr Barrio: I was the Indian Academic who talked to you for a few minutes. Your summing up of the Workshop is excellent equally matched with an attractive Web Design.


Dr. POOLLA R.K. Murti(prkmcs@gmail.com)
Associate Professor
Cyber Laws & IPR
University of Hyderabad, India

Julian W said...

A great summary of the day - thank you! I've also referenced it in my blog, with a rather different perspective - http://legaledspace.blogspot.com/2007/06/ip-and-communities-of-practice.html

Can I link you? Best - Julian

feneuk said...

Julian, your post link has been added and also a link to your blog on "my links"

Law School Blog said...

PBL is increasingly being used in professions like law as well.

See: http://lawiscool.com/2007/07/19/problem-based-learning-of-law/