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Expert Witness : World News

EU adopts unified patent regime

European Parliament logo for Your Expert Witness storyOn 12 December the European Parliament voted to implement a common European patent law. It follows an agreement earlier this year to unify the patent courts into three centres in the UK, Germany and France.

According to a release issued by the Parliament: "After over 30 years of talks, a new regime will cut the cost of an EU patent by up to 80%, making it more competitive vis-à-vis the US and Japan. MEPs cut costs for small firms and tailored the regime to their needs, in a compromise deal with the Council endorsed by Parliament on Tuesday."

Bernhard Rapkay, the German MEP who led on the regulation setting up the unitary system, commented: "Intellectual property must not stop at borders. The path towards the introduction of the EU patent was long and troubled, but ultimately it has been worth the effort. Today's vote is good news for EU economy and especially for European small and medium enterprises."

Italian MEP Raffaele Baldassarre, who led talks on the regime for translating EU patents, described the current regime as "...effectively a tax on innovation".

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 15:37

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EU makes waves in attempt to combat illegal fishing

Raul Romeva i Rueda from his Twitter page for Your Expert Witness storyA leading environmentalist MEP has claimed that short-term economic gain and political priorities take precedence over the marine environment when it comes to taking action against illegal fishing.

On November 15, the European Commission notified third countries that it considers as potentially being non-cooperative when it comes to establishing a community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. It is a move applauded by Raül Romeva i Rueda, vice president of the Greens/European Free Alliance group in the European Parliament.

"Everybody agrees that illegal fishing must be fought against and eradicated but they all insist that it is always somebody else's fault," he wrote in a recent issue of PublicServiceEurope.com.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 15:59

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EU data protection: inspections find video surveillance not adequately flagged

CCTV image for Your Expert Witness storyThe European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has issued a report on the findings of on-the-spot inspections conducted between 15 June and 18 July on the premises of 13 Brussels-based EU institutions and bodies. The inspections formed one of the measures announced in a follow-up report in February outlining compliance by EU institutions and bodies with the 2010 EDPS Video-surveillance Guidelines.

The report, which is not published, contains recommendations for the 13 bodies on how to improve the way in which information about video-surveillance is provided to the general public, including:

• The existence, location and content of selected on-the-spot notices highlighting that the area is under surveillance.
• The availability and the content of a data protection notice at the reception or via security personnel
• The availability and the content of an online policy.

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 November 2012 14:28

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Lawyers worldwide urged to protect access to justice

Picture of Joseph Stiglitz for Your Expert Witness storyThe opening day of the International Bar Association's annual conference in Dublin saw a speech by Nobel economics laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz urging lawyers worldwide to resist a diminution in access to justice.

"Inequality was growing before the financial crisis and has been exacerbated by it," he told the conference, reported by the Law Society Gazette. "In 2010, 93% of growth went to the top 1% – many of you in this room," he said, adding that the "challenge for the legal profession" is to ensure that "the promise of justice for all" does not become "justice for those that can afford it".

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 October 2012 13:48

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EU court confirms national courts’ jurisdiction in some cross-border cases

"For a consumer to be able to sue a foreign trader before the national courts, it is not necessary that the contract at issue was concluded at a distance."

That was the conclusion drawn from a judgement by the European Court of Justice on 6 September, following referral of a case from the Supreme Court in Austria.

It means in practice that the fact that a consumer travels to another member state to conclude a contract with a trader does not therefore prevent the courts of the consumer's member state from having jurisdiction, according to a statement from the court.

The Austrian Supreme Court, as the court of final appeal in that country, was hearing an action brought by an Austrian woman against a German motor trader.

The woman, a Ms Mühlleitner, "seeks rescission of the contract for the sale of the vehicle she bought from [the dealer] for her private use. Ms Mühlleitner came across the offer...by searching on the internet. However, to sign the contract of purchase and take delivery of the vehicle, she went to Hamburg. On her return to Austria she discovered that the vehicle was defective."

The dealers refused to repair the vehicle and disputed the jurisdiction of the Austrian courts after the subsequent legal action by Ms Mühlleitner. They argued that the contract was not 'concluded at a distance'.

The Court of Justice, however, held that, as of 2004, the "consumer's possibility of bringing proceedings before the courts of his member state against a trader domiciled in another member state is not subject to the condition that the contract was concluded at a distance".

The release issued by the court states: "EU law aims to protect the consumer, as the weaker party to the contract, in cross-border disputes by facilitating his access to the courts, in particular by geographical proximity of the court which has jurisdiction. The consumer may thus sue in his national courts a trader with whom he has concluded a contract, even if the trader is domiciled in another member state, on two conditions: first, the trader must pursue commercial or professional activities in the member state in which the consumer resides or, by any means (for example, via the internet), direct such activities to that member state and, secondly, the contract at issue must fall within the scope of such activities."

• This is a news story derived from an unofficial document issued for press use.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 13:43