Showing posts from November, 2007

Small print could soon be a thing of the past

From 19/11/07:"Information requirements are an irritant for business and consumers routinely ignore the small print overload because it is turgid and confusing, according to a Government study. A new report calls for a rethink by policy-makers and businesses.
Consumer[s]... are not necessarily making informed decisions [about purchases] – meaning it is unlikely that regulated information is having a major impact on their behaviour."
The study further found that, "Consumers ignore the detail, especially when making spontaneous decisions, for example, when being offered a store card at point of sale. Low literacy groups said the small print was scary and humiliating. Other groups were blasé about ignoring the contract detail, describing it as unimportant and boring. When prompted for their reaction to wording such as "The Consumer Credit Act 1974" people "glazed over", according to the researchers. A representative response: "What the hel…

If you go down to the shops today...

On Friday whilst on a casual jaunt through town, my girlfriend and I were stopped in the street. Nothing strange in that you might think, but this was no ordinary street encounter. We were intercepted by 3 men: one costumed in large bright pink pig outfit, the other in a Tigger, the third, more unremarkably attired, sported a camera and clipboard.

Caught off-guard by such creatures inhabiting the street (and previously having my attention dedicated solely on browsing round the German-style Christmas street market, giggling at the sign for the ‘wieners’ being sold) we were initially nonplussed. Getting my wits back, I quickly smelt a rat. Well a pig and tigger, actually. After all, whose warning antennae wouldn’t go into overdrive and detect something dodgy afoot when suddenly advanced upon by a giant pig and tigger?

It turns out they were trying to sell us some crappy personalised Christmas card and calendar deal, the quality of which was easily rivalled by that of the typical creations…

Sonogram + MP3 = Trademark Registration

From: 23/11/07A sound can be registered as a trade mark if it can be written in musical notation. But a sound like Tarzan's yell can also be registered if a graphical representation is accompanied by an MP3 file, according to Europe's trade mark registry.I very nearly blogged about the whole Tarzan-yell trademark issue when I first came across the story a few weeks ago.Registration of the sound by way of Sonogram was rejected, I thought, on logical grounds following well-established principles of TM law.This was so in spite of the accompanying guidance: ‘sustain, followed by ululation, followed by sustain, but at a higher frequency, followed by ululation, followed by sustain at the starting frequency…"Lot of help, that is.In 2005, however, a crucial development occurred in this area of TM law.Since then, the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) can register sounds represented graphically by way of a sonogram AND an mp3 file.So there you go. Gi…

Too Little, Too Late?

From: 16/11/07
UK Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has argued for much tighter data protection laws in Britain, insisting that those who lose data should end up in court. Thomas told the Lords Constitution Committee that those who knowingly or recklessly flout data protection rules should be prosecuted and fined up to £5,000. "If a doctor or hospital [employee] leaves a laptop containing patient records in his car and it is stolen, it is hard to see that as anything but gross negligence," Thomas told the Lords. "The Commission can currently issue enforcement notices, but these do not impose any element of punishment for wrongdoing." Thomas suggested that one-off cases should not be prosecuted, but that systematic abuse needs greater censure. He also proposed that companies should be inspected without warning for data security, rather than the current system which relies on consent. Clearly something isn’t working with regard to the UK and its…

Return of the Pesky ‘Craplets’

I hate the free offerings that software companies and OEMs foist on the unwitting public comprising of bloatware, craplets, sh*tware – call it what you will.Naturally, most at risk are the inexperienced computer users who, despite the publicity campaigns and security advances in software, still somehow mange get their computers extraordinarily infected with the STDs of the computer world.Instead of tottering off down to the Clap-clinic, though, a trip to the local PC World is usually on the cards.I’m continually amazed by the amount of toolbars and other crapware that derive from various well-known search engine companies etc. that I see stubbornly installed in the browsers of people who should know better.My continual warnings, it seems, fall incessantly on deaf ears.Let’s take a typical toolbar situation, which I ran into a couple of days ago with one of the PC’s I ‘manage’.An undisclosed computer ‘user’ unsuspectingly succeeded in getting a whole crapware suite downloaded and insta…

Bloggers Beware – use company logos at your peril!

From OUT-LAW News, 12/11/2007A US blogger who reported on a court ruling has been ordered by car rental firm Avis to remove an image of its logo from his blog posting to avoid charges of trade mark abuse.Eric Turkewitz is a lawyer who writes a personal injury blog. In a recent post he discussed a ruling on the constitutionality of car rental firm immunity from some kinds of negligence suits. He illustrated the story with pictures of the logos of leading firms Hertz and Avis but was told by Avis's lawyers to take down the picture.A comment on the blog from Fred Grumman, associate general counsel at Avis, said: "we have the greatest respect for your right to express your opinions on your blog, but that does not include the right to use Avis' trademark as you have done in this particular piece.""Understandably, trademark law is not within your area of expertise. Therefore, we trust that this was done out of ignorance and not based on an intent to misuse our mark to…

Murder without a body

There are occasions when the gaps in my legal knowledge are brought embarrassingly to the fore.Tonight, for instance, quite out of the blue, my girlfriend posed the very good question, “if no body is found, can a person be tried for murder?”I had to readily admit that I wasn’t quite sure – despite giving an erudite and scholarly ‘err’ while I paused for thought.Despite the fact I could reel-off without hesitation the common law definition of murder and give a knowledgeable and plenary précis of the law surrounding each constituent element of the crime, I didn’t know the precise answer.Needing some follow-up to my learned pause, I mumbled something about it being an ‘evidential issue’. Thinking it through, I wasn’t aware of a case which out rightly proved or disproved whether a body was required for a murder charge to be made out.Naturally, I turned to Google to help.I quickly discovered some background info and the age-old Camden Wonder case in the 1660s which established the ‘no body…

Get me to the lecture on time

Why is it some lecturers seem to have an innate propensity for turning up late at almost every single lecture? This has long been a pesky grievance of mine as an undergrad but now at a different university and on the LPC, there is one lecturer in particular who insists on being spectacularly late for virtually all lectures and workshops.Strangely, though, I seem to have accepted his tardiness as normal service – much more so than some of my fellow students. The said tutor is, after all, by far and away the best lecturer on the course and I’m still massively pi*sed that his elective module isn’t ‘running’.

In defence of one of his late appearances, he openly and freely admitted that he was strolling along casually, enjoying the 'beautiful day' and suddenly realised he was going to be 20 minutes late and had to 'get a move on'. Another time he put it down to having to drive 'across country' and the fact he strolled in 25 minutes late was due to the fact it took hi…

The 'Lottery' of Limitation

From The Times 7/11/07:

The woman, known as Mrs A, should now be able to claim compensation for the attempted rape in Roundhay Park, Leeds, in 1988, her lawyers say.

Mrs A's attacker, Iorworth Hoare, originally from Seacroft, Leeds, had not been worth suing until he won £7 million on the Lotto while on day release from prison in 2004.

The law lords have indicated that they plan to allow an extension of the limitation period - enabling Mrs A and others to press for compensation, according to her lawyers.
The law lords had been planning to hear evidence from five different cases, but after hearing the key issue have indicated that they can reach their decision.

Although most claims for damages for physical or psychiatric injury now have an extendable three-year limitation period from the date of the claimant’s “knowledge”, claims for damages arising out of an intentional sexual assault have a non-extendable six-year limitation period from the date of the assault or the claimant’s 18th bi…

Can I interest anyone in a packed lunch?

Luckily, my formative assessment in the interviewing and advising module went swimmingly on Tuesday with one exception. About half way through, 2 air-heads walked in trying to sell us packed lunches. My assessor, clearly unimpressed, hissed back at them through gritted teeth, “we’re actually trying to conduct an interview in here”. They backed out immediately murmuring the requisite ‘sorry’ and were never seen again. Well not by me, anyway. Interestingly, though, on my way out I noticed that the two crates of packed-lunches had been left in the corridor by the entrance to another room with no-one in the vicinity. If I was of more questionable character, I could have swiped one and hidden it under my coat to munch on later. Being the fine, upstanding citizen that I am, I didn’t.Naturally I regretted it later. Talk about a wasted opportunity.

Between the red thing and the other thing

The planned trip to the fireworks and bonfire last night went, for the most part, smoothly enough. Despite me having an appallingly bad sense of direction we made it in good time, thanks in no small part to my girlfriend’s unwavering ‘inner-compass’. Right on cue as we were leaving, there was the traditional drizzle which was more precipitation than it was ‘firework detritus’. The bonfire went off with a bang, the fireworks even more so and were pretty good on the whole – there was no admission fee, after all. Naturally, once they had finished, everyone made straight for the exit, resulting in a stadium-style crushing match. It did mean that I heard the best one-liner of the night, though. In the pandemonium of the rush for the exit, as the hoards of firework-watchers trampled through the already fit-to-bursting fairground, one woman with a mobile phone clamped to her ear, tried to articulate her position to the poor caller on the other end: “I’m between the red thing and the other th…

Remember, Remember the 5th of... what month are we in?

The Michael is taking the evening off tonight to go watch some fireworks and squeal like a scalded dog like most of the other spectators. It's been a while since I specifically went to a fireworks display - the last time being Independence Day 2005 in Philadelphia.

It's been excitment all the way in the run-up to tonight. Yesterday evening, for instance, we were able to spot a few damp squibs let off across the city that none-the-less extracted the requisite scalded animal impression. As ever, with Fireworks-UK-style, it's often the diminutive effect of the fireworks which hold the appeal. Brits have this morbid fascination of typically turning out on a cold, damp evening to gasp in pronounced, slightly despondent glee at the wet farts being let off in the sky. With frozen hands and even colder feet we push unforgivingly through the crowds, earnestly wishing we were close enough to the burning heap to warm our icebound tootsies and enjoy the flaring, searing and bliste…

Why is probate so boring?

Maybe I’m missing something here but probate just bores me to tears.It’s true to say that I’ve never been particularly jazzed about the prospect of private client work and avoided those option modules at undergrad like the plague.Now on the Legal Practice Course, it’s impossible to escape the pain and suffering that is probate and instead must face it head on. 'Wills & Probate':- a drier subject I don’t think you’ll ever meet.Maybe I’m just not benevolent enough to be suited to advise the ’poor dears’ who come along to ask pertinent or at times, not-so-pertinent questions re. probate, inheritance tax or God-knows-what.Such is my hatred of this subject I’ve rather hamstrung myself in not particularly keeping abreast of matters as we’ve gone along.Thus, my reading and research for probate could be described as lacking, my knowledge limited and my competence in dealing with such issues, minimal.Well, now I’m in the somewhat invidious position of acting as solicitor for a form…

It’s cheese – It’s popcorn – it’s CHEESY POPCORN

I was introduced to this atrocity of an idea today and unsurprisingly they seem to have gone down with consumers like a lead balloon.After all, who would buy this stuff?But seriously, who in their right mind would think up a combination of popcorn and cheese.I would much sooner try a deep-fat-fried-battered-deluxe (Scottish Style) popcorn than this ‘phony-cheddar-crap’.Even a marshmallow-filled tomato coated popcorn has got to be better – okay, maybe that draws with the cheesy popcorn in the ‘nastiness stakes’.But I think my point is made.That said, I am someone who finds the mere notion of savoury flavoured popcorn mildly repugnant, so it’s perhaps not surprising that the prospect of cheesy popcorn makes me somewhat queasy.Don’t get me wrong, though: I’m not advocating the demise of every cheesy snack.While in Sweden, for instance, I could often be found gobbling on a pack of cheese doodles.And no, sadly, Titti Schultz wasn’t proffering a crate of them to me.Would’ve been nice, thoug…