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.

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Comments on “Patenting The Geophysical Center Of Europe?”

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Ron Rezendes (profile) says:

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!

AudubleNod (profile) says:


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. 😛

Ron Rezendes (profile) says:

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!

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

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.”

Danny says:


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!”).

Mirado_Woodtone_II says:

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:

ghjm says:

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?”

mfoetsch (profile) says:

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:

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