European Union Expansion to 25 Member States – Map

Update: Please note that the European Union was expanded to 27 States on January 1, 2007 as Romania and Bulgaria joined the ranks of Member States.

European Union Expansion to 25 Member States – Map (Reposted from December, January, February and March due to popular demand)

NEW EU MEMBERS as of May 1, 2004

On May 1, 2004, ten (10) additional countries will join the European Union as new member states, raising the number of EU Member States from 15 to 25.

This extremely important development for the world will change the taxation and legal systems of the new EU Member States, according to a report of May 1, 2003 of PriceWaterhouseCoopers which writes:

“The enlargement of the EU will fundamentally change the tax and legal systems of the ten accession countries requiring harmonisation to ensure they are in line with EU legislation and case law. Areas affected include: VAT, customs and excise duties, direct taxation, commercial law, consumer and competition law, social security and employment law, intellectual property, e-commerce, financial services, and data protection.

Peter Cussons, international corporate tax partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, said:
“The need for a large measure of tax and legal harmonisation is inevitable, the list of areas affected is huge, and the compliance clock is ticking.
“Companies with existing operations in the ten accession countries should be re-evaluating their operations now to enable them to implement necessary changes in time for the accession date of 1 May 2004. It should also be noted that these changes will have implications not just for companies which already operate within the accession countries, but also companies which plan to invest in or have or plan to have other business relations with those accession countries.

“I cannot emphasise enough that, with only 12 months remaining, businesses need to act now to ensure they are fully compliant with the new largely harmonised EU tax and legal environment.”

As of April 1, 2004, there is now only 1 month left for these changes to be made.

The enlargement of the European Union will have further long-term political, economic and legal repercussions as ebusiness.com has stated:

“In the Treaty on European Union which came into force in 1993, Article 49 says that any European State which respects the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law may apply to become a member of the Union.

Further clarification was given by the European Council meeting in Copenhagen in 1993 which laid down the basic conditions for membership – the so-called “Copenhagen criteria” :

stable institutions guaranteeing democracy;
rule of law, respect for and protection of human rights and minorities;
existence of a functioning market economy;
capacity to cope with market forces and competitive pressures within the Union;
ability to take on the obligations of membership, including Economic and Monetary Union.”

As seen on the map above prepared for this purpose, these ten new members starting in the north and moving southward are:

Estonia
Latvia
Lithuania
Poland
the Czech Republic
Slovakia
Hungary
Slovenia
Malta
Cyprus

United States and European Union compared

The European Union has similarities but also differences to the United States.

Predecessor Organizations and Member States

The predecessor organizations of the European Union started with six (6) members.
These were Belgium, West Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Currently there are 15 so-called “member states” in the European Union including the original six member states (Germany after the reunification added the 5 East German Laender on October 3, 1990)

plus the following nine additional member states added as follows:
Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom joined in 1973. (numbers 7,8 and 9)
Greece joined in 1981 (number 10)
Spain and Portugal joined in 1986. (numbers 11 and 12)
Austria, Finland, and Sweden joined in 1995. (numbers 13, 14 and 15)

Norway signed an accession treaty in 1994, but Norwegian voters rejected membership in a referendum, so that Norway is NOT a member of the European Union.

The accession to the European Union affects the monetary systems of the new member nations and their currencies.

What about the EURO in the new member states?
As you can read at that link, in spite of membership in the EU, the adoption of the Euro in the new member states is conditional upon meeting certain monetary requirements.

The Maastricht Treaty and Other Treaties forming the EU

The Maastricht Treaty also known as
The Treaty on European Union
entered into force by ratification of the Member States on November 1, 1993.

See the milestones of the EU in a timeline of events for the European Union

See the factsheets for the European Union

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EOLAS Internet Embedding Patent Review Update

Internet Embedding Patent Review Update

The TechnoLawyer IP Memes Newsletter has a posting entitled:

“BEWARE THE FUD FACTOR: INVALIDATION OF EOLAS’ PATENT CLAIMS EXAGGERATED, BUT EOLAS LOSES FUNDING ANYWAY”. TechnoLawyer confirms that the rejection of the Eolas patent claim is in fact only preliminary and cites to the respective scan of the USPTO “Office Action“.

Anyone reading that particular USPTO “Office Action”, which cites the grounds for the preliminary rejection of all ten patent claims by Eolas, would have to conclude, however, that Eolas has as good as no chance that its patent will be approved in this patent review process.

USPTO Negative on Eolas Embedding Patent at First Review Stage

USPTO Negative on Eolas Embedding Patent at First Review Stage

The Internet and Patents

The internet is ubiquitous and affects MANY of us DIRECTLY nearly every single day. Indeed, the internet will be increasingly important as time goes on. The world of tomorrow is a DIGITAL world.

The “Rejected” Eolas Patent and the News

So let us look for a change at a really IMPORTANT piece of news, which has been misreported by almost every important newspaper and news agency. The only halfway reliable report we have found online is at InternetNews.com in a March 5, 2004 article by Susan Kuchinskas misleadingly entitled “Microsoft Wins One in IE Battle” which correctly reports that a preliminary examination of the Eolas patent by patent examiner Andrew Caldwell in the USPTO re-examination of this patent resulted in a rejection of ALL 10 Eolas claims in the patent for the reason that “It would have been obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art at the time the invention was made to implement the browser and controllable application”.

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Robert McMillan of the IDG News Service reports in Computerworld that “Eolas patent rejected, but decision not seen as final”.

THAT would be GREAT news of the first importance, if the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) had actually and FINALLY rejected the validity of the patent erroneously issued to Eolas for internet embedding methodology, for which it has sued Microsoft and for which it is threatening to disrupt the entire internet. However, the patent has in fact not yet been actually rejected by the USPTO but, as reported at Nipper’s Patent Law Blog, the patent has been given “a negative first office action during the [patent] reexamination” and the process of review is not yet completed, though with all 10 claims preliminarily rejected, it does not look good for Eolas at this point. Thank goodness for that.

This is the first step forward by the USPTO in fulfilling its manifold RESPONSIBILITIES, which they had forgotten. We hope it is the start of the absolutley necessary NON-ISSUANCE of patents for general software code or for methodology related to the internet, especially where patent applications come from companies and individuals who have become specialized in “methodology patent filing”.

We repeat here our view that the only things that should be patentable are SPECIFIC PRODUCT APPLICATIONS of software code and of digital and internet methodology, but NOT the underlying code, technology or methodology itself. That is the ONLY standard which will withstand the necessities and demands of the future.

Bloggers and Media who have Correctly Seen this as an Important Event

Bloggers who have seen this as a significant event: Well Done !

Nippers Patent Law Blog

IPTAblog

Furdlog

Digital Media Minute

Juicy Studio

Nick Bradbury

Slashdot

The Haus

ex machina

Other News Sources: IHT, CNet, Windows & .Net Magazine Network. Note that most of these journalistic news sources miss the entire POINT!!!!! seeing this as a victory for Microsoft, rather than categorizing this news properly, i.e. as a victory for ALL of us. This and other similar Eolas patents (or similar patents from other companies and individuals) have little to do with Micorosft but a lot to do with the future of the internet.

We would ask that the uninformed journalists out there finally get this right in their future stories.

And of course, we at LawPundit were right on this issue all along – see here and here and especially here.

Other Developments

See also Netcraft.

In a related development, at ZDNet see also the fully justified denial of a patent for Amazon’s “One-Click” methodology by the Japanese Patent Office. We hope that the USPTO, the US Congress and the European Commission finally WAKE UP and follow suit in rejecting totally these kinds of ridiculous patents.

Things are beginning to look up in this previously dismal internet patents field.

See the Wikipedia generally on the topic of software patents – with many useful links.