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Town Gets Patent On Being the Center of Europe 169

Posted by samzenpus
from the continental-drift-be-damned dept.
An anonymous reader writes "And you thought software patents were going to far? How about geography patents? Apparently, as a part of the weird fight over what place in Europe represents the 'geophysical center of Europe,' the Austrian town of Frauenkirchen has received a patent (Austrian patent AM 7738/2003) declaring it the center of Europe. Not clear how one 'infringes' on such a patent, but then again, it's not clear why anyone's patenting this either."
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Town Gets Patent On Being the Center of Europe

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  • Doubtful (Score:3, Insightful)

    by symes (835608) on Monday August 16, 2010 @11:26AM (#33264768) Journal
    And the rest of the article goes on to say:

    "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."

    Any Austrian patent experts here that can verify this claim? I call BS.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I am no expert, but it seems more likely that it is actually a trademark.
      The german sources call AM 7738/2003 "Aktenzeichen" which translate to something like reference number (clearly not patent number) and the austrian "patent amt" is also responsible for trade marks...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Dachannien (617929)

        The Austrian Patent Office website is pretty obtuse to navigate, but if you manage to find [patentamt.at] the search page, you can put "7738/03" in the trademark search box and get this result:

        Anm.: IMAGEWORX MEDIENPRODUKTIONS-, VERLAGS- UND EVENTMARKETING GMBH *FRAUENKIRCHEN ^ST. MARTINSGASSE 5

        Vertr: ZUST.ADR.: CORINO FABIANI *A-7132 FRAUENKIRCHEN ^ST. MARTINSGASSE 5

        So there is at least some truth to the story, inasmuch as someone has registered a trademark there. But not a patent.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          yes, trademark is radically different than a patent (even though that is still dumb). This whole story smacks of inaccuracy.. not just patent instead of trademark, but also assuming that "geophysical" == "geographical". Language is picky - you really have to learn to use the *right* words.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          /. does not differentiate between patents, trademarks, copyright, industrial design, or trade secrets.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Platinumrat (1166135)
          Obviously, you need to be an Einstein to navigate the Austrian Patent Office website.
    • by Marcika (1003625)

      And the rest of the article goes on to say:

      "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."

      Any Austrian patent experts here that can verify this claim? I call BS.

      IANAPE, but I took the time to navigate through the database search. The Austrian patent office issues not just patents, but also design patterns and trademarks -- this one probably is the latter. However, I actually didn't find the above patent number in any of the categories...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 16, 2010 @11:27AM (#33264772)

    Obviously this patent should be revoked when Turkey Joins the EU, as the center should shift eastwards

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gsslay (807818)

      EU != Europe

      • by trb (8509)
        Northwestern Turkey is on the continent of Europe, most of Turkey is not. There are large parts of the European contient (like Norway and Russia) that are not in the EU. Membership in the EU does not seem to be relevant to this question.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If this had been modded "Funny" instead of "Interesting". I would have let it pass. However, even if Turkey joins the EU, it will still be in Asia rather than Europe and since this "patent" is for being the "geophysical center of Europe" it would apply to the geographical meaning of Europe, not the political meaning.
      • "it would apply to the geographical meaning of Europe, not the political meaning."

        Do you really think "Europe" has any kind of geographical meaning?

      • by ktappe (747125)

        If this had been modded "Funny" instead of "Interesting". I would have let it pass. However, even if Turkey joins the EU, it will still be in Asia rather than Europe.

        You are aware that part of Turkey is on the European continent, right?

  • It's to make sure that when the Germans invade next time they'll be forbidden from either a.) renaming the town, or b.) declaring a new center of Europe.
    • by mysidia (191772)

      "next time" It won't be the Germans. It will probably be one of those underestimated countries like Spain.

      Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition (or the Spanish incursion)

      Not that invaders are effectively bound by patents anyway

  • by gapagos (1264716) on Monday August 16, 2010 @11:28AM (#33264780)

    It's like there's a location in Ecuador claiming to be "at the line of the hemisphere", and really it's just a tourist trap with a big white lane being painted on the ground, and PLENTY of tourist junk being sold and T-shirts saying "I've been to the center of the globe and all I got was this stupid T-shirt"

    They just want to do the same thing, but with "center of Europe" instead.

    • by Abstrackt (609015) on Monday August 16, 2010 @12:12PM (#33265362)

      We tried something similar to raise tourism here in Canada. With famous alterations to the English language (i.e. "what's that aboot?" and the ever-classic "eh"), killer mosquitoes (why watch Jurassic Park when you can live it?), and our happy-go-lucky play-hockey-anywhere-that's-frozen (everywhere) attitude we've managed to achieve global recognition. And instead of T-shirts (because everyone does those), we have the line "I went to Canada and all I got was this stupid hangover" you'll often hear at customs when tourists are leaving our beautiful country.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      My friend went to Africa and at the Equator there's some guys who demonstrate the Coriolis Effect with a funnel and a bucket of water...a couple of paces to either side of the white line on the road. [wikipedia.org]

      And yes, it really works!

      • by hoggoth (414195)

        I call B.S.

        From your own Wikipedia link: "In reality, this experiment shows that the Coriolis effect is a few orders of magnitude smaller than various other influences on drain direction, the direction in which water was initially added to the container and its geometry. In the above experiment, if the water settles for 2 hours or less (instead of 24), then the vortex can be seen to rotate in either direction."

      • by Ecuador (740021)

        Ehmm, actually it doesn't work!
        Those guys that hang around areas where the "equator line" is a tourist attraction are just scammers.
        The Coriolis effect is so minuscule compared to the other forces during the experiment that it has no effect. The aforementioned scammers have learned how by slightly tilting and/or moving the bucket (or "rigging" it) they can "help" the water rotate the way they want.
        Yes, IAAP...

  • Meh ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by dc29A (636871) * on Monday August 16, 2010 @11:29AM (#33264798)

    Meh ... still not as cool as living in Fucking [wikipedia.org].

  • by Meshach (578918) on Monday August 16, 2010 @11:31AM (#33264832)
    What is strange about that? It sounds like they want to secure the term for use in marketing the town. Cities are just looking for a way to set themselves apart and make them marketable.

    It is just like Microsot patenting or trademarking their latest slogan ("Your Potential. Our Passion" or whatever it is).
  • Underground (Score:4, Funny)

    by jbeaupre (752124) on Monday August 16, 2010 @11:33AM (#33264860)
    Because the Earth is curved, the actual geophysical location is going to be many kilometers underground. So technically, they are all fighting over who is closest to Hell. No, not that Hell (Norway), the Hell
    • by rossdee (243626)

      Yeah, then it should be the Lidenbrock Sea that is the Centre of Europe.
      (Note the European spelling of Centre)

      I guess this is similar to the town of Rugby ND claiming to be the center of North America. I don't think the IRB would let them get away with patenting Rugby especially as they don't play the game in the USA

    • Hell, Michigan?

    • the Hell

      New Jersey?

  • center of mass or center of east-west/north-south extrema? And if center of mass, do you treat Europe as a uniformly dense plain, or not? And is curvature taken into account? This is important to know, there just may be one (other) European town out there in the world who cares about this stuff.
    • by CityZen (464761)

      Exactly. The "center" is anywhere you want it to be, given the appropriate definition of "center".

  • I guess they did that before some other town they hate gets a patent on being the "geographic median city of europe"?
  • it's not clear why anyone's patenting this either.

    Well, it seems pretty simple to me. Once they have that "patent" they can begin a massive tourism-focused add campaign featuring some hot gal saying stuff like "Come visit the center of Europe" and because they have the patent no other city can go and steal their idea.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Joce640k (829181)

      I'm betting they'll even have a cross on the ground for tourists to stand on and take photos.

      Right next to the souvenir shop.

  • Previously I heard the centre of Europe being in the neighbourhood of Prague. Iceland is pretty far up North. But then there are also places like Spitsbergen and Greenland - count those in and the centre of Europe shifts further up north, some claimed more towards Vilnius even.

    Let's see. South of Malta is at 35 deg N, top of Spitsbergen is somewhere near 80 deg N, average 57.5 deg N, then I'm somewhere in Latvia even. Vilnius is just under 55 deg N.

    Counting the Nordkapp (North Cape) as northernmost point

    • I think there are two places in my home country, Slovakia, claiming to be in the centre of Europe. Go figure.

      • by mobby_6kl (668092)

        Back when I went to school, I was told that our country, Ukraine, was the center of Europe. To be more exact, I think it was supposed to be some shithole town in the Carpathian mountains, which, if you look where the Ural mountains are, doesn't seem to be too ridiculous.

    • by gfreeman (456642)

      But then there are also places like Spitsbergen and Greenland - count those in and the centre of Europe shifts further up north

      Physiographically, Greenland is a part of the continent of North America [wikipedia.org].

    • by Tjp($)pjT (266360)
      There is a marker in western Ukraine from a long long ago survey that proclaims that to be the center of Europe. So there is "prior art" to invalidate the Austrian patent.

      And it had a marker placed there by the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, the claim of Austria is belied by their own ancestors.

      But seriously, how difficult can it be using modern satellite based cartography to determine where the boundary is, once you establish if it is weighted landmass or center of the bordering/enclosing polygon, and w
  • Before others get any bright ideas, I am patenting myself as the center of the universe.
  • by sjames (1099)

    The UK and this town are colluding to stick the next town over with the bill for fighting coastal erosion (cheaper than an infringement lawsuit!). There's probably kickbacks involved.

  • So apparently the whole of this story is that the village of Frauenkirchen has a trademark for its latest tourism campaign - "Mittelpunkt Europas" ("Centerpoint of Europe", more or less, or more idiomatically just "The Middle/Heart of Europe"). This is a trademark, laying a legal claim to the use of that particular phrase as a brand, not to the idea of being "in the middle of Europe" or anything remotely related to patents. Nice stretch, but no story.
  • How can that town be granted the patent, the country it's in isn't even in the same continent!

  • It's my umbilicus that's the centre of the (my) universe. But you won't see me patenting this. Just bragging. What a bunch of sorry pussies there in the town of Frauenkirchen. One of the places I will not visit. I will however go back to Vieanna as it is one of the truly beautiful world cities.
  • And what I'd like to see is the original art for this technological advancement supplied to the patent inspectors.
  • Let me guess, the average IQ at the patent office as dropped by at least an order of magnitude (maybe two) since Einstein left. Must be in the low double digits, possibly even single digits by now.
    • Once again proving that I cannot type. It should read "has dropped". You would think that by now I would have learned to proof twice before clicking on that last button.
  • Not clear how one 'infringes' on such a patent, but then again, it's not clear why anyone's patenting this either

    Just wait until the send the mid-Atlantic ridge a C&D. That whole continental drift thing is a major infringement on this patent!

  • >> Not clear how one 'infringes' on such a patent
    One doesn't.

    >> it's not clear why anyone's patenting this either.
    1. Town gets headlines.
    2. Town become famous.
    3. Tourists come.
    4. Residents have a new source of income.

    Ain't rocket science, dude.

That does not compute.

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