The European Union Services Directive Reviewed

As written in the EU Observer newsletter of 9 June 2006 (subscription available):

On 29 May, the Competitiveness Council brokered a long-awaited agreement on one of the most controversial pieces of European legislation: the Services Directive. If the European Parliament confirms the compromise, this directive could revolutionise the EU internal market, says Sarah Lee, advisor for European Affairs at EUROCHAMBRES.”

That EU Observer article by Sarah Lee is found under the title
[Comment] The services directive: What implications for companies?
where she writes inter alia:

While the scope of the directive has been reduced – and some key sectors such as temporary work have been excluded – the text still covers most service sectors including hairdressing, hotels, construction, advertising, management consultancy and architect services.

If applied rigorously, the directive should considerably reduce the barriers within these services sectors, especially with respect to setting up a branch of a company in other member state.”

Read more here.

Forecasting The Future: It’s Solid as Rock

Success in the modern economic, social and political world world depends in substantial part upon human crystalballing abilities, but few industrial, social or religious leaders, management heads, or politicians are recruited or selected for having this rare gift of clairvoyance.

Quite the contrary, for top leadership positions and offices, society generally strives to select strong and steadfast individuals who can be quite immune to the trends of the times.

Indeed, in areas such as the legal system, the inertia of the establishment is so pronounced that the law inevitably lags far behind the actual societal vector.

If we look at our world objectively, we see that it is the more sensitive among humanity – and not the strongest – who are often the most attuned to the spirit of the age. We see this particularly in the fields of art, fashion, literature and music, where new trends generally anticipate the world of tomorrow far better than what professional prognosticators or political pundits write.

Today, while reading the June 15, 2006 print issue of Rolling Stone, we were struck by the headline “Rock Rules the Charts” in an article informing that the sales of rock music are on the rise in the USA, mirroring a trend in Europe seen through the win of the Eurovision song contest by Finland’s hard rockers Lordi and their winning song “Hard Rock Hallelujah“.

We sense that this points to an impending return of Western Civilization to its own basic values and culture – with all of the consequences that this return will have for the political, economic, military and social state of the world.

Universities of the World : Who is Better? America? Europe? Asia?

Universities of the World : Who is Better? America? Europe? Asia?

EUobserver.com in a June 6, 2006 article by Andrew Rettman titled “US universities tower over ‘dilapidated’ EU schools” writes that:

EU universities are among the worst-funded in the world, falling behind US schools and becoming vulnerable to competition from Asia, according to a new report by the London-based think-tank the Centre for European Reform (CER) out 5 June.”

The Future : USA, Europe and the Rest of the World

Compare these two articles on the future of America, Europe and the Rest of the World:

Europe’s Good Intentions Have Gone Sour
by Victor Davis Hanson June 1, 2006 (C) 2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

How Long Will America Lead the World?
by Fareed Zakaria, June 12, 2006 issue of Newsweek

Via CaryGEE.

US Chief Justice Roberts Stumbles out of the Starting Blocks

Although we supported the recent nomination of John G. Roberts to the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (see here and here), we are very disturbed by a quotation used in the concurring opinion written by Roberts in eBay v. MercExchange ___ U.S. ___, No. 05-130 (2006), slip opinion.

Roberts writes:

Discretion is not whim, and limiting discretion according to legal standards helps promote the basic principle of justice that like cases should be decided alike. Martin v. Franklin Capital Corp., 546 U. S. ___, ___ (2005) (slip op., at 6). When it comes to discerning and applying those standards, in this area as others, ‘a page of history is worth a volume of logic.’ New York Trust Co. v. Eisner, 256 U. S. 345, 349 (1921) (opinion for the Court by Holmes, J.).”

The first statement can be easily accepted as a legitimate judicial principle.

However, the words of Justice Holmes quoted by Roberts at the end are a cause for some concern, as this is not the first time that Roberts has used this quotation in writing an opinion. (See his dissent in United States v. Jackson, where, in fact, we agree with his dissent, commented by Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy.)

Holmes has many great quotations, but this is not one of them.

For thousands of years, mankind thought that the world was flat and that the Sun revolved around the Earth, but this was not so. Logic – and not the millions of erred pages of history – were ultimately determinative.

Science is not law, but law is also a science.

Law can not afford to rest on historical practices if those practices no longer satisfy the modern needs of the social order. It surely can not be a principle of modern law that history overrides logic, where logic is in the right. Hence, the exercise of discretion does not always conform to the pages of history if the modern era demands a different solution.

It is of course true that the law is very conservative by nature and that historical precedents rule until overturned. However, as far as the issues of discretion and patent law are concerned, a page of history will not help to resolve the current chaos in patent law. That chaos is caused in part by the application of outdated and inapplicable historical principles to a new emerging digital world and in part caused by the legislative and judicial formulation of what have proven to be inadequate new legal principles for that world.

The legislature and the judiciary are thus called upon to remedy the current situation. Accordingly, we suggest to Chief Justice Roberts that the correct quotation from Holmes to employ in making decisions on the current chaos in patent law is the following one:

I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving … we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”

Justice Roberts, it is time to “lift anchor”.

Denial of Patent to Software-Related Invention Appealed in the UK

We posted previously about the Macrossan patent case in the UK, involving the denial of a patent for computer-based document assembly.

Today, we received the following information from a reader:

The Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Jacob of the Court of Appeal recently granted permission for an appeal in the Macrossan case, which concerns the controversial topic of the patentability of software related inventions.

In particular, the Macrossan case concerns the patentability of a computer-based document assembly system (at http://www.ukcorporator.co.uk/). The appeal is from the decision of Mann J in the High Court given on 3rd April 2006, which may be seen at http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2006/705.html.

A link to a copy of the decision/order by Lord Justice Jacob is at: http://www.ukcorporator.co.uk/patentappeal.pdf.

It appears that His Lordship considered that Mr Macrossan’s arguments have ‘a real prospect of success’ and that the issue of the exclusions contained in the European Patent Convention – Article 52 (i.e. the analogue of section 1 – subsections (1) and (2) – of the Patent Act 1977) was of ‘public interest’ and ‘sufficiently uncertain’ to be worthy of consideration by the Court of Appeal.

Euro Sign (Euro Currency Symbol) Online : Problems and Solutions

Using the Euro sign online is problematical because this relatively new currency symbol was originally not foreseen in ASCII code.

Newer keyboards can reproduce the Euro sign on the screen monitor but when the same text is published online, the Euro sign (i.e. the currency symbol for EURO) can be garbled in the browser, depending upon the code setting.

For example, to render the Euro currency sign correctly online for the standard code setting on most English-language browsers, we use the HTML code in writing our text in Blogger.

This conforms to the W3C HTML 4.0 standard which supports ISO 8859-1 (Latin-1) characters, the standard code setting in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser as also the prevailing character encoding “Western (ISO 8859-1)” in the browser Mozilla FireFox.

If this specific character code is not inserted in Blogger’s “Edit Html” textbox to replace the Euro sign which the keyboard produces, the Blogger textbox will correctly render the Euro sign on the screen monitor, but the Euro currency sign when published online will appear as garble for most standard browser settings.

Problems and Solutions involving Euro sign usage online are found at:

The euro sign in HTML and in some other contexts