Thursday, June 17, 2004

thursdays, i love law.

for two hours every thursday afternoon, i love law.

it's during the two hours that prof.d. teaches intellectual property/copyright.
he seriously rocks.

intellectual property is my favourite law subject.
i've concentrated on it for years, and while my immediate plans to leave the country are on hold, i still hope to get an llm specialised in ip at some point in the future.
i've heard it all before, patents, trade marks, copyright, but with this current lecture, i'm definitely learning a whole lot of new things. - apart from some more facts, i've been learning how to use my own head again, how to built better arguments. it's prof.d.'s approach to teaching that's making you think again. that's what makes his class so worthwhile.

as a law student round here, from day one, you're discouraged to use your own head. blame the system, if you will.
when you first get into law school, they kill your language skills and force you to adopt the formal language of the law. then they make you insecure about your gut feeling, logic and insticts and teach you to rely on commentaries, and more commentaries and cases and more commentaries.
sure, law and law research and teaching can only make sense when taught in the context of the system they exist in, but what's the point of killing all potential for new influences? all these years into law school, i still haven't understood it. the dogmas of law turned me off law, made me hate it for ages, and are the reasons why i'm still not done with it.
all my ip profs, however, have taught me to use my head myself, to actually discover the reasons for opinions myself, to find my own reasons and to express them well. it's quite undogmatic, ip, more case law than most other fields in german law (we're a civil law system, after all), so it's essential that you can use your head.
and i love that.

it's surprisingly hard to un-learn the braindeadness instilled by all law subjects but ip though. when i wrote my paper on the finer aspects of "use" in comparative advertisement in trade marks these last months (about the eugh "toshiba/katun" decision), i found it unbelievably hard to find words for my very own opinion. i managed though.
i got my grade today, and while it's not perfect, and while i had hoped for something better, it's the best grade i ever got in law school. considering i puked about half of the 30 pages into the computer in the last 72 hours before handing it in, i can be quite satisfied, i think. go, me!

i first got interested in ip during my first intership at the now long dead german division of andersen legal. - i first looked into the actual text of trade marks law when phillip, the young lawyer i shared an office with, had to deal with a case that dealt with phone books and was actually quite high profile. these days, he's partenr in a specialised ip firm in düsseldorf. very cool. one of these days, i'll have to thank him for my start into ip.

during my first intership in melbourne, i got my first glimpses of hardcore licensing matters and confidentiality agreements...and i loved every minute of it. i was at a very technically oriented firm that had started out of a government department. their cases came from many different scientific backgrounds: mining, chemistry, biotech - it was very interesting to read about the projects on which universities, governments and private investors collaborated; projects that we built the legal groundwork for, trying to anticipate issues that could arise over the years to come.
working there made me realise that i could actually like law. i realised that i could like it, when its not about people, but about science and brands and things, and when there's lots of potential for litigation. yay for litigation!
my second internship in melbourne was serious boutique ip, and that's where i really found my place. the firm did lots of character protection and litigation, so the tiny office was full of toys and dolls and other property seized with anton piller orders. towers of tumbling monkey games! the best thing about my time there, however, was working on the trade marks application for a certain good looking, tiny, female australian entertainer with a penchant for golden hotpants and seductive posing. it was so hip! i even got to look at lingerie as part of the job.
had i stayed with evan and moved to australia, i could have worked at that firm, while getting my degree. the job alone made me think hard about going to melbourne, even without the relationship with wasn't enough to counter the stalking-evan-factor that would have been a big issue had i immigrated (or at least tried to) after the break-up. but who knows, i might get back to the offer, if it was still there, of course, should i decide to and find the funds for an llm in melbourne, after all. yeah, i'm dreaming.

prof. d.'s class is hardly as glamourous as trade marks for kylie, but it's still the highlight of my week.
this years class is his class of guinea pigs. we're an experiment. he started with a few weeks of intense fact cramming, sp that for the rest of the semester, we'll be holding discussion rounds on issues we prepare for in advance. while this kind of thing is standard teaching overseas, it's a brandnew concept, quite a revolution actually, for old-fashioned german law teaching. and you know what? it works.
today was our first discussion round, and almost everyone had done their reading. while it wasn't as active and opinionated yet as i would have liked, it was pretty good.
the only annoying bit was one classmate who was constantly speaking. he comes to ip from a geeky point of view, that kinda clashed with the copyright on happenings and art we discussed today.
his views on art made me want to give him free tickets to the kunstmuseum in basel. duh. we also discussed copyright on legal drafts, and his arguments showed that he had never ever drafted something he was proud of. good grace, he should have seen the 100 something page thing we prepared on the career of the aussie entertaienr to show the mark had been extensively used prior to someone else registering it, and that we had overriding popularity. tsk.
in my opinion, the term "work" should generally be very open. exclusion can happen later, that's what we have the barrier laws in ip for. why start excluding at a point when it's not needed yet, risk leaving out things that are worthy of protection and overly complicated the term "work"? tsk.

most interestingly though, it wasn't until a short discussion after class with said classmate and prof, that i heard prof.d. is actually the project lead for icommons germany, the german "division" of creative commons. bad of me, that i hadn't heard about it before.
just shows how i compartmentalise my life. - i use a creative commons license for this blog myself, and have done so for a good long while, yet because this movement started in the us, and because my online writing is so non-law and hosted in the us and written in english, i read about something like creative commons and make up my mind about it, yet don't get into legal thought how that transfers to germany and german law. silly me. - i really need to change that.
the creative commons system is so easy and excellent, such a useful, easy to understand approach to clarifying copyright issues and freeing content on the internet! fabulous prof.d. is working on it.
next week, creative commons will be the discussion topic for our thursday class, and hell, yeah, i'm already looking forward to it. i bet i'll be in agreement with the geeky classmate a lot next week.

and while i don't plan on talking blog during that discussion, it'll be a good time to start de-compartmentalising my life.

today was a good day, law-wise.