Attending last week’s IPSC (Intellectual Property Scholars Conference) was like being bathed in the soft cocoon of the community of legal scholarship. There was lots of great thinking, great writing, and great comraderie — and some not-quite-ready-for-prime-time thinking and writing, too. Much of it, however, was divorced from the day-to-day of the different faculty roles that we occupy.
I emerged ready to face the academic year that starts soon and ready again, perhaps, to post here from time to time. It’s been a while since I wrote at any length in my own voice. For the benefit of anyone who might be interested, for any reason, I’m going to post a series of snippets summarizing what’s on my plate this year.
I’m teaching Trademark Law (Fall) and Copyright Law (Spring), again relying on a short-papers-and-no-exams pedagogy that I have been refining over the last 10 years and that I wrote about once (see the paper here). For an introduction and overview, see this page. I am not a clinical teacher but feel strongly that other forms of experiential learning can succeed — and can do a pretty good job of preparing students for practice — even in “conventional” law school classrooms such as mine. Also, I loathe administering comprehensive end-of-semester law school exams. (I don’t mind the grading; grading exams takes much less time than grading short papers. I just don’t see their pedagogical value.) I teach a seminar titled “Foundations of Intellectual Property Law” (Fall) that will again be organized around teaching students to write a “biography” of an older IP case, on the model used in the “IP Stories” book edited by Jane Ginsburg and Rochelle Dreyfuss. (The “Foundations” name is solely the product of a bit of marketing; the title “Advanced Intellectual Property Law” attracted fewer students.) I’m trying to give students practice in long-form research and writing that both may inspire them to really invest in IP as a career and encourage them to develop rhetorical and analytic skills through scholarship, other than contemporary law-review-style scholarship, that will suit them well as practitioners. Thanks to Frank Pasquale for this recent post, in which he remembered that I wrote about this interest of mine.
There are things that I’d like to do more of but haven’t yet approached. I’ve been toying for a couple of years with flipping my Copyright and Trademark classrooms in part, documenting much of the “propositional” teaching and learning via podcasts and videos for students to experience on their own and spending even more time than I do currently on working in class on complex multi-agent problems, simulations, and hypotheticals. Occasional class cancellations may give me some opportunities to do that on an ad hoc basis, but it might be sensible in the future to structure much of each course around that idea. And I haven’t yet had the courage or the time to pursue something that’s been in the back of my mind for some time: Replacing these two introductory courses with a two-course sequence on what I might call “Innovation Law,” walking students through common themes (for example, investment and appropriation; innovation and creativity; intermediaries; transactions; remedies; intersections with commercial law and competition law; political economy) as expressed similarly and differently through patent, copyright, trademark, and some other related bodies of law (trade secrecy, perhaps, and design rights).