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Prof. Tim Armstrong Enjoys Building Intellectual Property Program

Many professors at UC Law do it all: teach, read, write, speak, lecture, raise families, and even find time to attend the occasional student and school functions. For Professor Tim Armstrong, his responsibilities include serving as the only full time faculty member in his legal area of intellectual property (IP) at UC. Being a small law school has not precluded UC Law, with the help and guidance of Armstrong, from building and growing a solid IP program. With upwards of roughly 30 to 40 students involved in the Intellectual Property Law Society (IPLS) group on campus, the interest in IP law has blossomed over the past few years under the leadership of Armstrong.

            “I was very lucky to inherit a high quality and stable group of existing adjunct professors,” stressed Armstrong, who joined UC Law in 2006. While he has  added a new adjunct faculty member to teach a Licensing course, Armstrong is responsible for teaching four different classes, three in any given year. He teaches both Introduction to IP and Copyright every year; the third class he teaches rotates between Computer and Internet Law and International Intellectual Property. “I have the ideal course pack,” he explained. Specifically, Armstrong specializes in copyright and consequences of digital technologies on copyright law.

It Began At Harvard

After a decade spent practicing with a law firm in Washington D.C., Armstrong’s teaching career began at Harvard University where he served as Assistant Director of the law school’s Clinical Program in Cyberlaw. He also co-taught two classes:  a seminar called “Practical Lawyering and Internet-Related Issues,”  and a class, his favorite,  called “Internet and Society: Technologies and Politics of Control”, a Harvard Extension School class that included both graduate and undergraduate students. “Whereas the graduate students thought reading case law was mundane, the undergraduate students were excited to read cases by the Supreme Court.” His experience teaching made him want his own class.

            Armstrong remembers meeting with just six students who comprised the IPLS two years ago when he started at the law school. He now finds about 20 students in each of his Introduction to IP and Copyright classes each year. “Students sometimes think you need a technical background to study intellectual property, but that’s not the case at all,” he emphasized. The growth of the program since 2006 has included new adjunct faculty and, most recently, the new Practice One IP course. The IP curriculum is largely determined by the adjunct faculty available to teach the classes. “It was important when picking which course to use that they be broad-based classes of interest to a lot of students and that they match up with groups of practitioners in the area. Since Cincinnati has such a well-practiced IP community that is willing to work with the law school, the depth of the local bar in the field allowed us to easily staff the new Practice One course,” he explained.

UC Law Connects With Greater Community

Armstrong currently holds the position of faculty advisor to the IPLS and is encouraged by the growing connections between UC Law and the Cincinnati IP community. The IPLS is working closely with Cincy IP, a local group of IP practitioners, to begin a mentoring program between students and attorneys.

When he’s not at school, Armstrong relishes being a dad to two sons aged 2 ½ years and 10 months old. Although he admits that the boys can be a handful, he enjoys being the sole child care provider on the days his wife travels for her Washington, D.C.-based employer.  In addition to spending time with his family, Professor Armstrong admits that he can be found on opposite ends of the bookstore browsing early US History and science-fiction titles. He is also an amateur chef and a musician, who gigged regularly before coming to UC as the bass player for The Frivolous Suits, a group Armstrong describes as “very possibly the best all-lawyer funk/blues/alternative band in D.C.”