Asian Alliance


For close to 20 years now, The John Marshall Law School has been offering specialized intellectual property (IP) law training and LL.M. degrees to staff attorneys at the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of China in Beijing, as well as to judges in the Chinese courts and Chinese attorneys in private practice. The humble beginning started in 1993, when Dr. Gao Lulin, then director general of the Chinese Patent Office, visited the United States. One of the goals of his trip was to find a school willing to partner the SIPO to train the Chinese patent examiners. When he arrived at The John Marshall Law School and met with the administration, he knew he had found a match. Within a year of that meeting, The John Marshall Law School was hosting key SIPO officers as visiting scholars.
After more scholars came to JMLS, both sides believed a formal and rigorous educational training were needed. In 1999, the law school agreed to initiate an LLM curriculum for the Chinese patent examiners and lawyers. The first graduate was Guangliang Zhang, a judge at the Intellectual Property Tribunal of the First Intermediate People’s Court in Beijing. The LLM program initiated in 2001 brought John Marshall professors to China to teach the basics of the American legal system as well as legal research and writing. Examiners and attorneys who passed through this program, were accepted into the LLM program. The first LLM students arrived just as the Chinese Patent Office was being reorganized as the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO). Today, more than 100 of the officials at SIPO have received degrees from The John Marshall Law School. The reach of John Marshall also has been extended beyond its initial Beijing location to include attorneys from Shanghai and Jilin provinces. With the expansion of its work in China, the law school created the Asian Alliance Program in 2004. Under the leadership of Director Dorothy In-Lan Wang Li, the program trains government officials, law students, attorneys, and judges from throughout China, Taiwan, Korea, and India. To date, more than 400 Chinese legal professionals have taken advantage of the opportunities offered by The John Marshall Law School.


The John Marshall Law School expanded its Asian Alliance Program to Taiwan in 2004. The cooperative agreement includes training top-level government officials, law students, and attorneys. Initially, the law school partnered with the Institute of Technology Law at National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan. John Marshall professors travel to Taiwan each summer to offer preparatory courses in US law for students who will enroll at John Marshall in the LLM program in intellectual property law. In addition, the university patterned a judicial externship program after the one John Marshall has for its students who work with judges in county, state, and federal courtrooms. Dr. S.J. Liu of National Chiao Tung University has been successful in developing the Taiwan externship program with Taipei District Court, and it is being used as a model for externships in courts throughout Taiwan. In 2008, John Marshall Professor Julie Spanbauer was a Fulbright Senior Specialist at National Chiao Tung University. She taught “A Survey of Business Law in the US Legal System” that incorporated some of her Contracts class materials, and had students using drafting documents that helped them with English legal writing skills.


As an extension of its outreach efforts, The John Marshall Law School brought a delegation of United States federal court judges to China in March 2007 to share insights on the American judiciary. Dean John E. Corkery welcomed intellectual property (IP) law attorneys from Beijing and introduced Judges Matthew Kennelly, Charles Kocoras, and Micheal Mihm who serve on the US District Court Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division (Chicago) and Collins Fitzpatrick, circuit executive for the US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Joining them were Prof. Li and Professor Richard Gruner, former director of the Center for Intellectual Property Law at The John Marshall Law School.

“Judges and attorneys in China are anxious to get insights from our esteemed judges,” Li said. “Their remarks have been translated so that not only the people invited to the programs but others interested in United States law can learn from them.” The judges delivered comments on IP law enforcement in China and the US, enforcement of judgments, judicial conduct, discipline and security of judges, and alternative dispute resolution.

Other Beijing stops for the delegation included a visit to the Supreme People’s Court, First Intermediate People’s Court and the National Judges College; a meeting with faculty and students at China University of Political Science and Law; and a meeting at the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs.


Patent examiners and re-examiners are receiving training in US patent law through a specially-designed program initiated in 2006 by The John Marshall Law School and China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) Re-examination Board and Patent Cooperation Center. Patent examiners and re-examiners have specialty backgrounds in technical fields. To enhance their understanding of the legal ramifications of their decisions, these specialists attend classes at The John Marshall Law School for two weeks. Over the third week, the students travel to New York City and Washington, DC, to visit with patent attorneys and government officials, including staff members at the US Patent and Trademark Office. “This program is becoming as popular as our LLM degree program,” Prof. Li explained. “We started with one group, but as the interest increases, we are working with more patent examiners and re-examiners. They get training from our top professors and adjunct professors.”


Early in 2008, two John Marshall alumni were among the first to be appointed judges on the Republic of China-Taiwan’s new Intellectual Property Court.

Grace Tsai, who received an LLM in Information Technology and Privacy Law in 2005, and Jack Wang, who received an LLM in Intellectual Property Law in 2000, serve on the eight-member IP Court created by the Taiwan Judiciary Yuan. The Judiciary Yuan worked for more than two years to establish the IP Court. Court administrators received 84 applications from judges, and 40 of those were invited to participate in a four-month training process. In December 2007, 14 judges were selected from the group to proceed to the second round. Tsai and Wang were selected from the 14 finalists. For four months they took yet another class to prepare for the IP Court’s first hearings in July 2008. John Marshall’s strength in IP law prompted the Judicial Yuan to sign an agreement for the law school to train future IP judges for Taiwan. Judge Tsai Zhihong arrived in January 2009 to start his LLM study at John Marshall’s Center for Intellectual Property Law. Supreme Court Justice Chen Shyshiong also completed his LLM degree in IP Law in January of 2012.


Dr. Gao Lulin is one of China’s leading IP protection experts, with experience in the private, public, and university sectors. He has held a variety of leadership roles over the course of his career. He served as commissioner of the Chinese Patent Office and founding commissioner of SIPO. For roughly two years, he was a senior advisor to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. In 2002, he founded East IP, a Beijing firm that specializes in IP, and became its chairman. He also is the honorary president of the All China Patent Agents Association. It was during a 1993 visit to Chicago as commissioner of the Chinese Patent Office that Dr. Gao first learned of The John Marshall Law School and its work in intellectual property (IP) law. From that initial meeting, Dr. Gao and then Associate Dean Robert Gilbert Johnston designed the program that, over the years, has blossomed into a partnership.

In 2007, Dr. Gao accepted an invitation to join the Advisory Board for John Marshall’s Center for Intellectual Property Law. The IP Advisory Board meets twice a year and provides the Center’s faculty and staff with guidance on the development of the IP curriculum, means to serve the IP bar, and important changes in IP law and practice. In addition, Dr. Gao teaches a Master Class in Chicago titled course covers the development of Chinese patent law; a comparison of Chinese patent law, US patent law, and the TRIPS Agreement; an examination of major Chinese patent-related cases; and proposals for multinational companies in acquiring and enforcing patent rights in China.


Knowledge doesn’t come just from books. Judges, attorneys and law students learned that first-hand when they participated in a comparative trial program in Beijing in June 2008.

“When I said I would go to China (with a John Marshall contingent), I knew it would be an interesting experience. I’d never been there before, and I was really looking forward to all China had to offer,” said US District Court Chief Judge James Holderman. “But I said if I was going to go, I wanted to contribute to the program.”

What Holderman had in mind was a comparative trial program, similar to one he had been part of that compared patent litigation in the US, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Professor Richard Gruner felt that a comparative program in Beijing, based on the patent laws of the United States and China, would be an excellent means to highlight differences in patent litigation in these countries. Holderman and Gruner worked to plan such a program with attorneys Glen Belvis and David Fleming, successful intellectual property (IP) litigators, who were also members of the John Marshall group that traveled to Beijing in 2008.

“The attorneys worked for months in advance of our trip. They developed the problem and Prof. Li had it delivered to China,” Holderman explained. “We had to give them time to translate the problem into Chinese.”

The arrangements in China were handled by Professor Guangliang Zhang of the China University of Political Science and Law (now with Renmin University School of Law). A former acting chief judge of the Intellectual Property Tribunal, Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, Zhang was no stranger to John Marshall and its programs: He was the first Chinese student to receive a graduate degree from the law school, earning an LLM in IP law in 2001.
The mock trials were a marvelous example of cooperative learning, Holderman said.

“We arrived in the morning at the SIPO Training Center and the auditorium was already crowded. The program had been advertised, and I’d say about 200 people—attorneys, SIPO staff, and law students from Professor Zhang’s university and those who traveled from John Marshall—were all there.”

For three hours, the Chinese hosts presented the case. A three-judge panel that included Professor Zhang sat on a dais in front of the Chinese Courts seal and listened as attorneys argued the problem of a patent infringement case.
“Sitting through that program was a real learning experience for me. The Chinese court has limited witness examination and the proceedings are much more staid. The attorneys are very reserved,” Holderman explained. “They stay at their table. They don’t rise or walk around as our attorneys do, and when documents are to be presented to the judges, a clerk brings them to the bench.”

During the lunch break, the space was converted to an American courtroom setting for an abbreviated trial.
If the American guests were intrigued by the Chinese court procedures, the Chinese members of the audience were just as fascinated when they witnessed an American trial. Holderman presided as counsel delivered their opening arguments and cross-examined the witnesses, who included Gruner, Dr. Marie Beall, John Marshall alumnus Arthur Yuan (JD ’04) of Senniger Powers in St. Louis, Missouri, and Yuezhong Feng, PhD, from China who works at the Brinks Hofer law firm and is a JD student at John Marshall. The attorneys summarized their case in closing arguments before the jury, which was composed of John Marshall students.

Although deliberations were held in a separate room, video was shown at the SIPO auditorium so that program participants could hear how the cases were decided. “That part of the proceedings was of particular interest to all of us,” said Gruner. “Video coverage of the three-judge panel deliberations and our US jury deliberations gave a clear picture of how the issue was framed for both sides and gave insights into aspects of the proceedings that the public would not see in a real court proceeding. I think the Chinese and American participants rose to the occasion to show the differences and the strengths of both countries’ litigation procedures.”

Gruner said special thanks were to be extended to the law firm of Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione, which allowed its attorneys to travel to China for the program, and which made a donation that helped cover the cost of simultaneous translation services used to make the comparative trial program more accessible to both the Chinese and American members of the audience. “Having realtime translations allowed all of us to understand the proceedings and follow the exchanges of the judges, lawyers, and witnesses,” he added.

"In addition to our discussions with Chinese government officials and judges who deal with the Chinese intellectual property laws, we had a chance to meet with members of the Beijing IP bar, as well as Chinese law students, in social settings. The dinners and lunches were wonderful and the free exchange in our discussions about our respective countries’ laws and cultures proved fascinating for all. Having that kind of discourse was highly educational for the John Marshall students and for me. It was an enriching exchange of ideas.”


The global reach of the United States and China is recognized around the world. The global reach of a partnership between The John Marshall Law School in Chicago and the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) in Beijing, is specific and thriving.

In 2009, The John Marshall Law School takes the Asian Alliance Program in a new direction with a China IP Summer Program open to students at American Bar Association-accredited law schools throughout the United States. The program, a cooperative effort between Peking University School of Law and The John Marshall Law School, will offer students intellectual property (IP) coursework as well as visits to China’s major courts, government agencies, and law firms. “We have been training Chinese attorneys for 15 years. Now we are able to offer American students an opportunity to study in China,” Prof. Li explained. Li is already planning her next cycle of programs. She hopes an expanded use of technology, both through the Internet and teleconferencing, will help spread IP training throughout Asia. Guest lectures and specially-designed programs will bring a new understanding of how American and Chinese laws intersect on intellectual property matters, she added.

“To become a viable partner for globalization, we have to think globally and act locally. Our long-term goal is to build up a China IP Law Resources Center at John Marshall. I believe it will make the Chinese IP law experts who come to Chicago feel at home while visiting The John Marshall Law School, and it will provide up-to-date Chinese IP law information to American law students and scholars,” she explained.

The reach into other Asian nations is another goal, Li said. As Asian markets expand, global commerce will put a renewed emphasis on intellectual property law. “We have had a great 15 years. Each new concept for learning became a working program,” Li said. “In hindsight, it was the tremendous efforts by everyone involved that helped bring these projects to fruition. I’m sure our future is bright and our global reach will be ever expanding.”