Jurica reports on the last E.M.B.L. - HSG Module "IT and Energy Law" in Austin Texas

Nov 25 2019

Written by Jurica Miketa

The module "IT and Energy Law" took place in October at the School of Law of the University of Texas in Austin. It was the final flying-class module in the E.M.B.L.-HSG program 2018/2019.

In view of the wide range of topics on IT and energy, this module could not take place at a better location than Austin,Texas. Austin is already regarded as the new Silicon Valley in view of the rapidly growing development of technologies, which can be seen in the enormous growth of tech giants and growing population density. Numerous large tech-rises are already sitting here with their headquarters, including local hero Dell, IBM, Apple, eBay, Goole, PayPal, Oracle and many more. In addition, the best legal experts on the subject of Energy Law and Tech Law can be found here, which could not be more appropriate in times of climate change and legal expertise on the use of traditional fossil fuels and future renewable energies. For the joint kick-off of the module, the participants also met in Austin a few days earlier on the famous 6th street in Austin Downtown and started the anticipation of exciting and current topics with the celebration "Día de Muertos" and the corresponding mask parade.

The program began on Monday, at the School of Law with the "Welcome Session" under the chairman Prof. John S. Dzienkowski.  Sam Porter, Senior Counsel at Norton Rose Fulbright in Austin, opened the program with a great presentation on „Wind and Solar Transactions“, which was inspiring and fascinating. He was followed in the morning by the chairman Prof. John S. Dzienkowski with an introduction about the Developments and current Gas and Oil Projects”.

Prof. David Sokolow, distinguished Senior Lecturer at the Austin School of Law at University of Texas, joined him with the topic on "American Contract Law". Prof. John S. Dzienkowski concluded the first day with an introduction and reading on "International Petroleum Contracts". Afterwards, the participants met with the lecturers and the Dean of the University of Texas Law School Mr. Ward Farnsworth, at the Joe Jamail Pavilion at the Law School, to share and review their first impressions and upcoming events.

The second day was opened together by Mr. Richard Deutsch, Partner at McGuire Woods LLP, Houston/TX and Mr. Timothy Tylor, Counsel at Vinson & Elkins LLP Houston/ TX, with the complex topic "International Arbitration in Energy Disputes", and was examined from a practical point of view throughout the Tuesday morning. In the second half of the day, the participants were introduced to the topic "Oil and Gas Taxation" by Prof. Robert Peroni, Fondren Foundation Centennial Chair for Faculty Excellence, University of Texas Austin. The day ended with the presentation and explanation of the "International Petroleum Fiscal System" by chairman Prof. John S. Dzienkowski.

The middle of the week began with a presentation by Mr. Steven Fang, Partner, Huggins Reddien LLP in Austin, on "Electronic Commerce", where he focused on B2B trends and the specifics for consumers and new business customer segments. He was followed by Clinical Prof. Kelly Haragan, Director-Environmental Law Clinic University of California, with a presentation on "Environmental Law and Oil and Gas”. Mr. Eman Sojoodi, Senior Legal Counsel at Dell Company, presented an overview of Dell's practice - "Dell and Its Patent Practice" and discussed the principles of Dell's policy.

In the afternoon, the chairman Prof. John S. Dzienkowski took over the presentations and introduced the second part of the day with "Allocating Risk in Different Agreements". After a short discussion round and refreshments, he continued with the current topic on "Social Media and the Law" and the participants actively participated in the lecture series. The chairman stressed out the complexity of transparency in the social media space and the truth content of fake news and pointed to the legal classification of freedom of expression in the overall context of social media law. The day ended with a short block and with an overview of the exam preparation. The evening ended with a dinner at the traditional Cowboy Texas-Barbecue Stiles Switch in the upper area of the Texas State Capitol.

Thursday began in the focus of practice with Prof. Greg Vetter, Associate Dean and Co-Director - Institute for Intellectual Property & Information Law (IPIL) at the University of Houston Law Center. His lecture series on "Software Protection" was spread over the entire morning, followed by case study introduction and preparation by the participants. The day was concluded by Ms. Elizabeth Rogers, shareholder at Greenberg Traurig in Austin, with her series of presentations on "Data Security, Privacy and Cyber Crimes". After a very rich day of exciting legal topics, the participants went together to the Halloween Festival in Downtown Austin. Despite all the formality and seriousness of the day, the participants jumped into costumes and mingled with fun and joy among the local Texans and celebrated the Halloween festival as Marvel Heroes accompanied by her Dragon Lady.

Prof. Neil Netanel from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, began on Friday with an impressive presentation on "International Internet Law" with all the practical aspects of the risks and benefits of today's Internet landscape. Special focus was put on patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret. He addressed intellectual property and aspects of IP law as fundamentally territorial aspect and the recognition that IP is fundamentally global. Countries have fundamentally different approaches and attitudes towards IP, so that Internet treaties do not solve the problem of IP on the Internet. The afternoon was at participants disposal for the final preparation for the exam and was intensively used to study different law cases. After the Q&A of the week and the wrap up, all participants met for a dinner for lecturers and candidates in Soho Austin, offered by the chairman Prof. John S. Dzienkowski, where an enjoyable evening concluded with all the entertaining talks about legal and cultural differences between Texans and Central Europeans.

Saturday, as the last day of the intensive week and complex week, was marked by the examination of the participants. After the exam, some participants left for the airport whilst the rest of us took the opportunity to visit the Lyndon B Johnson Library & Museum of the 36th U.S. President, which was located close to the School of Law on the Campus of the University of Texas. This very impressive exhibition in the LBJ Presidential Library, about a president and his presidency from 1963 to 1969, who groundbreakingly shaped US society and politics and whose decisions are still of enormous importance for today’s US citizens and world diplomacy. This visit was a great enrichment for everyone and also for this module.

A great experience and formative exhibition of a president who shaped recent history and the post-war period like no other and who was able to continue the succession of John F Kennedy visions. At the heart of his foreign policy were the skills of diplomatic relations in the détente policy of nuclear disarmament with the former Soviet Union, the end of the Six-Day War in the Middle East, and the end of the Vietnam War. His domestic policy shaped US citizens like no other domestic policy since Abraham Lincoln and the abolition of slavery in the US. President LBJ and Dr. Martin Luther King stood up together for the reform of civil rights and the strengthening of the rights of the U.S. natives citizens. He fought poverty and fundamentally reformed education and health policies so that every child had access to education. He liberalized immigration policy, drove space travel forward, and it is thanks to him that space shuttle Apollo 8 was able to take the first colour photo of the Earth from the space. This was followed by further infrastructure reform towards the West and the most comprehensive arms control law in US history, the Gun Control Act, which allowed the state controls on arms sales after the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King. The LBJ Presidential Library has over 45 million pages of historical documents, including live recordings and telephone calls.

All in all, it was once again a great module that managed to provide participants with a very good overview of a complex yet highly topical subject "IT and Energy Law". This in times of digital change and the great debate about climate change and the associated use of fossil and renewable energy resources in the future. The lecturers offered with their lectures and presentations a great overview of theory and practice and presented the current problems realistically. Again, numerous challenging problems but also positive approaches to solutions were presented from a legal point of view, such as how to deal with today’s energy problems and digital transformation. The fact is that we urgently need new energy concepts for the future if we want to offer new generations a future. A rethinking is required. Just as President LBJ was able to say: "If we don't learn to live together, we will die together." but in other words he was used to say: “Our huge investments in science and research are an expression of our belief that science can not only make people richer, it can make them better".

Last but not least, it is time to say thank you to E.M.B.L.-HSG Team for the whole E.M.B.L.-HSG program. Thanks for the great experiences, the tons of knowledge and great friendships we built over the years and across the continents. Time to close with the words of Lady Bird Johnson: "Where flowers bloom so does hope."