Patenting The Geophysical Center Of Europe?

from the this-is-a-joke,-right? dept

Bas Grasmayer points us to the claim that the Austrian town of Frauenkirchen has apparently tried to patent the fact that it represents the geographical midpoint of Europe. Apparently, there are a few nearby places that have also made claims to being the geophysical center of Europe, and someone decided to go that extra kilometer and try to patent it. Unfortunately, the details are really sparse. Wikipedia notes that it holds the Austrian patent AM 7738/2003, but navigating the Austrian patent website didn't work very well (um... language barrier...). The only source cited by Wikipedia is a speech from a few years ago, which mentions in passing that a woman's church the town had patented it (Update: the name Frauenkirchen apparently means "woman's church" so this is a bit of a translation error -- the guy was referring to the town). I don't quite see how such a thing is even remotely patentable, and I do wonder if they actually mean trademark -- so perhaps someone who's a bit more familiar with this can fill us in. Either way, it sounds pretty ridiculous to apply for (and potentially get) any sort of "intellectual property" monopoly privilege on the claim of being the geophysical center of Europe.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2010 @ 9:07am

    Those who can't innovate litigate.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Vic, Aug 13th, 2010 @ 9:08am

    I believe German Frauenkirchen means "woman's church" in English. So, did a church really try to patent it or a town?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), Aug 13th, 2010 @ 9:13am

    This is the EU, so any kind of idiocy is not merely possible but likely.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Aug 13th, 2010 @ 9:29am

    Re:

    I believe German Frauenkirchen means "woman's church" in English.

    i misread the town name as frauenkirschen, or something to do with women and cherries.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 13th, 2010 @ 9:30am

    Re:

    I believe German Frauenkirchen means "woman's church" in English. So, did a church really try to patent it or a town?

    Aha! The town did. I got "woman's church" from the Google translation of the speech, but that's because it translated the town name. Ooops. Anyway, updated the article. Thanks!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Aug 13th, 2010 @ 9:36am

    Re:

    ...because frivolous patent lawsuits are never filed in your country?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Your girlfriend, Aug 13th, 2010 @ 9:40am

    As long as...

    they don't try to trademark "Center of the Universe".

    I've got that one as far as you're concerned.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 13th, 2010 @ 9:41am

    Re: As long as...

    Bwhahahahahah!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    AudubleNod, Aug 13th, 2010 @ 9:48am

    Icebox

    This is reminiscent of the 'Icebox' debate a few years ago. Where two towns where claiming to be the "Icebox of America". If I were in one of the other towns claiming to be the center of Europe, I'd pay to dredge up some land from the ocean in Portugal or Iceland which would shift the center away from Frauenkirchen. :P

    http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/02/22/iceboxtitle/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Michael, Aug 13th, 2010 @ 9:58am

    Re: Icebox

    That's just the thing.

    If they get IP protection for this, even if a comet hit Germany and made Austria beach-front property (or if some ill conceived plan to beat Superman worked), the new actual center of Europe could not even claim their new found glory.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    drew (profile), Aug 13th, 2010 @ 10:00am

    Presumably...

    ...with the gradual movement of tectonic plates, eventually another nearby town will have the chance to stake their claim? In, i dunno, a billion years or so.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2010 @ 10:17am

    Presumably...

    ...with the gradual movement of tectonic plates, shouldn't there be a case for prior art?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Aug 13th, 2010 @ 10:23am

    Center of what?

    Does this mean I can patent the fact that I am the Center of the Universe? That all revolves around Me? :-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Ron Rezendes (profile), Aug 13th, 2010 @ 10:35am

    Re: As long as...

    Actually, since I AM, in fact, the center of the Universe, you be getting your C&D letter shortly along with a letter from my attorney. Or, you could simply make this all go away with a 5-6 digit "donation" to a charitable cause of MY choosing, namely - me and I'll grant you a 5 year license so you can also claim to be COTU!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Ron Rezendes (profile), Aug 13th, 2010 @ 10:36am

    Re: Center of what?

    Actually, since I AM, in fact, the center of the Universe, you be getting your C&D letter shortly along with a letter from my attorney. Or, you could simply make this all go away with a 5-6 digit "donation" to a charitable cause of MY choosing, namely - me and I'll grant you a 5 year license so you can also claim to be COTU!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 13th, 2010 @ 10:38am

    I owned and winter jacket years back ...

    The jacket had a map of the world as the inside lining. Someone asked me where Troy NY was so I showed them ... in the arm pit of the world. Fitting actually.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Aug 13th, 2010 @ 10:45am

    Re: Re:

    That's probably because that funky Capitalization of every Noun in German.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Comboman (profile), Aug 13th, 2010 @ 10:49am

    formula patent?

    I suppose they could patent the formula that they used to calculate the geophysical center of Europe, but if someone else is claiming to be the center they would be using a different formula anyway, so what's the point.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, Aug 13th, 2010 @ 10:50am

    The Mother Goddess.

    Frau can mean Wife, or Lady. In this case, Frauenkirche translates approximately as Church of Our Lady, or Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or words to that effect, or, if you prefer it in Spanish, Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles. The city's full and correct name is La Ciudad de Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles. In English, there is sometimes something called the "Lady-Chapel."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Danny, Aug 13th, 2010 @ 11:18am

    No....

    Personally I think this should fall under the same umbrella of trying to patent hard facts. In fact I'm sure that there is someway to actually calculate and prove where the center of Europe and therefore even before you get to the matter of shifting tectonic plates this should not be patentable.

    If a bunch of different places start trying to make that claim I'd just walk into every town and ask them to prove it or it doesn't count.

    This is simple a matter of people trying to use the law to preempt science ("If I hold the patent on being the center of Europe then even if plate shift and leave the center somewhere else I will still be the only one that can claim it!").

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Jac, Aug 13th, 2010 @ 11:22am

    Here's a retirement plan

    I'm going to move to Austria and I'm going to patent 12 o'clock as the middle of the day.

    ===Jac

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2010 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Presumably...

    Or just wait until the patent expires.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Hugh Mann (profile), Aug 13th, 2010 @ 12:03pm

    Re: formula patent?

    Yes, this is what I wondered - if perhaps the patent (if there really is one) was based on the method used to make the determination.

    I have to wonder, too, if this isn't actually a regional designation issue, like only sparkling wine from the Chamgagne region of France can be called "champagne".

    HM

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Rabbit80, Aug 13th, 2010 @ 3:25pm

    Re: Here's a retirement plan

    ... and you would be wrong ..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidereal_time

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Joe Erb, Aug 13th, 2010 @ 7:03pm

    patent

    The patent office is also responsible for designation of origin and trademark matters, although the website is godawful. It appears to be some sort of attempt at filing a designation of origin mark.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, Aug 14th, 2010 @ 2:37pm

    Patenting Frauenkirchen location

    Someone is having fun with us! The speech alludes to the location as "patentable" in the sense of unique.
    To support this, the Austrian patent office knows nothing about an AM 7038/2003 patent, trademark, design patent, or any other form of IP.
    Yes, it is a joke.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    inventor, Aug 15th, 2010 @ 9:21pm

    patenting the town

    What rights does the owner of the patent have? Ownership of the town? Control of the borders?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Aug 16th, 2010 @ 6:22am

    C'mon MIkey, get sober

    MIkey, what did you drink yesterday?
    Hangover is terrible and it does affect your little brain

    I suggest switching to better brand of vodka or tequila or wehatever you drink before posting your moronic blog entries

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Mirado_Woodtone_II, Aug 16th, 2010 @ 10:00am

    patent on geographic center of Europe

    Center of modern Europe, if you include European Russia up to the Urals is described by some as:

    After a re-estimation of the boundaries of the continent of Europe in 1989, Jean-George Affholder, a scientist at the Institut Géographique National determined that the Geographic Centre of Europe is located at 54°54′N, 25°19′E. The method used for calculating this point was that of the centre of gravity of the geometrical figure of Europe. This point is located in Lithuania, specifically 26 kilometres north of its capital city, Vilnius, near the village of Purnuškės. A monument, composed by the sculptor Gediminas Jokūbonis and consisting of a column of white granite surmounted by a crown of stars, was erected at the location in 2004. An area of woods and fields surrounding the geographic centre point and including Lake Girija, Bernotai Hill, and an old burial ground, was set aside as a reserve in 1992. The State Tourism Department at the Ministry of Economy of Lithuania has classified the Geographic Centre monument and its reserve as a tourist attraction. 17 km away lies Europos Parkas,
    Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geographical_centre_of_Europe

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    ghjm, Aug 16th, 2010 @ 1:01pm

    How does "patent" translate?

    The modern English term "patent" derives from the feudal "letters patent," which was the term for all documents used by the crown to grant offices, titles, land rights and royal monopolies. If a feudal lord wished to settle the question of which town was the center of his realm, letters patent would be an appropriate medieval form for this act.

    Is it possible that the Austrian language or legal system still contains some echo of this concept, which Google is translating as "patent" but which actually carries an English-language meaning closer to "affidavit?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    mfoetsch (profile), Aug 16th, 2010 @ 4:13pm

    The patent system is screwed up, but Wikipedia even more so

    Mike, this story is bogus. It goes back to a dubious edit on the German Wikipedia. The word "patent" was later added by the English Wikipedia editor.

    It's really just a trademark on the term "Center of Europe". This little "fact" about the patent has since been repeated a couple of times on the net. Thanks to your post, it will now live on forever. ;-)

    I did some research to find out where it can be traced back: http://realmike.org/blog/2010/08/16/patenting-the-geophysical-center-of-europe/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Helena, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 7:49am

    Re: Frauenkirchen

    Frauenkirchen is the name of a town... even though the literal meaning is Women's Church.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This