Earlier attempts at creating a Community Patent ended in failure, blocked by a few national governments. Far from boosting the EU’s economic competitiveness, they became symbolic of the EU’s failure to implement the Lisbon Agenda. But does this week’s consultation paper signal the Commission’s intention to give ground and to contemplate alternatives to an EU-wide patent?Businesses and lawyers have urged the Commission to back a 2003 proposal, drafted by countries belonging to the European Patent Office (EPO) – which includes EU members and other states such as Switzerland and Turkey – to create a single legal system for enforcing patent rights. This proposal, known as the European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA), would mean patent-holders could challenge infringement of their rights in one court and the judgement would be valid across the EU. But the suggestion has been blocked by the Commission on the grounds that it should retain exclusive jurisdiction in this area.For European business, the advantages of a pan-European judicial system are plain. It would dramatically cut the costs for patent holders and could boost their competitiveness vis-ˆ-vis other innovators, particularly in Japan or the US, which face much lower costs both in applying for patents and enforcing them. “The current patent system is working and the industry uses it, but there could be huge improvements,” said Ilias Konteas from European business association UNICE. “Irrespective of whether there is agreement on the Community Patent, the EPLA could be part of those improvements.”The EPLA scheme also has wide support from European judges and lawyers despite the legal difficulties involved in changing national patent law to fit the new system. In October, 24 top patent judges signed a resolution backing a proposal based on the EPLA.“Idealists would push for the Community Patent but I believe, and so do many others, that realistically the EPLA is the only alternative and it is one that would go a long way towards achieving the goals,” said Nigel Jones, head of intellectual property at Linklaters law firm in London.Though officially the Commission is still throwing its weight behind reaching an agreement on the Community Patent, a spokesman said that a shift on the EPLA “remains one of the big questions”.“But obviously we wouldn’t be launching a consultation if we didn’t think changes were going to have to be made,” he said.If the EPLA were implemented, it would also go some way to pacifying those, such as German Christian Democrat MEP Klaus-Heiner Lehne, who have called for the alignment of national rules on patents. This would ensure that courts judging a case would be likely to come to the same conclusion – something that is not currently the case. All observers apart from the Commission seem convinced of the futility of pushing to establish an EU-wide patent. The latter idea dates back to 1975 when a proposal created total deadlock because it would have meant companies paying for translation into all EU languages and would have allowed one national court to condemn a patent throughout the EU.After decades of debate, the Commission in 2000 put forward a new proposal and national governments reached a compromise in March 2003 which would have the EPO issue patents that would be translated only into English, French or German and then in all languages within two years. A single court would have been exclusively responsible for infringement claims.But later that year, EU capitals failed to agree on the delay for translating patent claims and the legal validity of translations with errors.While France, Britain and Germany backed the two-year period, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy and most new member states feared that their countries’ translation businesses would suffer and demanded a shorter time period. Ministers rejected a proposed compromise of nine months in March 2004. Similar political difficulties apply to another solution which was proposed in 2000 by countries that are signed up to the EPO to cut translation costs by 50%, known as the ‘London agreement’. Under this, members would waive their right to require a full translation into one of their national languages.Signed by 11 of the then 28 (now 31) EPO members, the agreement can only come into force once the UK, France and Germany have ratified it and so far France is stalling.
Heavy lift shipping company, Combi Lift is claiming a first having become the first company in the heavy lift sector to be certified for compliance with OHSAS 18001:2007.
Gary Rohman/MLS/USA TODAY SportsThe Missouri Valley Conference is the little NCAA hoops conference that could.The 10-school conference could send two teams to this year’s tournament — Northern Iowa and Wichita State — and were an Illinois State upset over Northern Iowa in the conference championship game away from possibly sending three teams to the tournament.The two representatives, though, could both make a serious run in this year’s tournament if things break the right way.Gary Rohman/MLS/USA TODAY SportsThe Wichita State Shockers became a household-ish name in 2013 when they made a shock (ha!) run to the Final Four, and the team has looked fantastic again this year, going 28-4 and earning a top ten ranking in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll before dropping down to #12. They dropped down in the poll thanks to a stumble in the conference tournament, when they lost to Illinois State in the semifinal.The Shockers did win the regular season MVC title, however, when they beat Northern Iowa at the end of February.Gary Rohman/MLS/USA TODAY SportsNorthern Iowa is #11 in the country, and the 30-3 Panthers look like a team poised to win a few games in March. Led by MVC player of the year Seth Tuttle, the team has size and strength, and while their shooting can go cold at times, they’ve found ways to win tough games all year.The rivalry between these two schools has made the MVC one of the most exciting conferences in the country that’s really, really hard to watch on TV. They play differently, as well, making their matchups fun to watch just to take in the contrasting styles. Wichita State often relies on their dynamic backcourt of Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker to penetrate and make things happen on offense. Northern Iowa is more of a grinding team who love to get the ball inside to Tuttle and let him work.Gary Rohman/MLS/USA TODAY SportsMaking predictions this early is impossible — with Wichita State’s latest loss, they might see themselves drop down to an 8-seed and a second-round matchup against a #1 seed, surely a calamity for the Shockers.But either of these teams, if they get the right breaks, could make a run. Keep an eye on the Missouri Valley Conference teams this March.
NEW ORLEANS | Beyonce is expected to face the media Thursday as she previews her halftime performance at the Super Bowl. But the focus will likely be on her performance at that other big event earlier this month.The superstar hasn’t spoken publicly since it was alleged that she lip-synched her rendition of “The Star-In this Jan. 21, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama as Beyonce sings the national anthem at the ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington. Whether Beyonce actually sang at the inauguration is a tempest in a teapot, but dig deeper and it reveals something about American society at this moment. In small ways, we seem to be constantly learning that the things we see and experience aren’t exactly what they’re billed to be _ and that we may not care all that much. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file)Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama’s inauguration last week. Her critically praised performance came under scrutiny less than a day later when a representative from the U.S. Marine Band said she wasn’t singing live and the band’s accompanying performance was taped. Shortly after, the group backed off its initial statement and said no one could tell if she was singing live or not.It’s expected that the halftime performance will be a main focus of her afternoon press conference, even though she’d likely rather concentrate on questions about her set list for Sunday and her upcoming HBO documentary, “Life Is but a Dream.” The documentary is being shown for the media just before Beyonce speaks and takes questions, as expected.There has been plenty of speculation about Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance, including reports there would be a Destiny’s Child reunion with Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland (Williams has shot down such speculation). Some are also curious about whether her husband, Jay-Z, will join her onstage, as they often do for each other’s shows.Beyonce has teased photos and video of herself preparing for the show, which will perhaps be the biggest audience of her career. Last year, Madonna’s halftime performance was the most-watched Super Bowl halftime performance ever, with an average of 114 million viewers. It garnered more viewers than the game itself, which was the most-watched U.S. TV event in history.___Follow Nekesa Mumbi Moody at https://www.twitter.com
MINNEAPOLIS | The disclosure that some pills found at Prince’s Paisley Park home and studio were counterfeit and contained the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl strongly suggests the pills came to the superstar musician illegally.But exactly how Prince obtained the drugs is still unknown, four months after he collapsed in an elevator on April 21 and died of an accidental fentanyl overdose. Authorities have so far revealed little about their investigation, saying it’s active and moving forward.Former prosecutors and defense attorneys who are familiar with drug investigations say it’s likely someone will be prosecuted, whether or not Prince knew he was consuming illegal drugs.FILE – In this Feb. 4, 2007 file photo, Prince performs during the halftime show at the Super Bowl XLI football game at Dolphin Stadium in Miami. The disclosure that some pills found at Prince’s Paisley Park home and studio were counterfeit and contained the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl strongly suggests they came to the superstar illegally. Prince died April 21, 2016, of an accidental fentanyl overdose. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara, File)“They will not say it was just Prince’s fault and let it go at that,” said Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago now in private practice.An official close to the investigation told The Associated Press on Sunday that some of the pills found at Paisley Park were falsely labeled as a common generic painkiller similar to Vicodin but actually contained fentanyl. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, also said that records show Prince did not have a prescription for any controlled substances in Minnesota in the last 12 months.The only way to get fentanyl — a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more powerful than heroin — is through a legal prescription, or illegally from the black market, said Joe Tamburino, a Minnesota defense attorney.“When you have weird stamped pills in aspirin bottles, sometimes things are what they seem, which is illegally obtained controlled substances,” Tamburino said. “How he got them? Who knows.”Fentanyl has been responsible for a surge in overdose deaths in some parts of the country. When made into counterfeit pills, users don’t always know they’re taking fentanyl, increasing the risk of fatal overdose.Tamburino, who is not connected to the Prince case, said investigators will likely talk to those close to Prince, and they’ll also search the computers, phones and communications of Prince and his associates, to see whether the pills were purchased online. Those searches would typically involve examining text messages, Instagram messages and other communications.“This is not to say the people close to him are guilty — we have no idea of that. But that’s where it would start,” Tamburino said. He also added that investigators are probably looking at security footage from Paisley Park, if any exists, to see who might have been going to and from the studio.Gal Pissetzky, a defense attorney in Chicago, said there are many ways Prince could have obtained the drugs: from a close adviser or friend, from a dealer on one of the stops he made as he was on tour, or over the Internet. He added that investigators might also use cellphone data to track Prince’s whereabouts.If someone gave Prince the drug that killed him, that person could face a third-degree murder charge, punishable in the state of Minnesota by more than 12 years in prison, Tamburino said.In addition, any illegal operation that involved making and dealing fentanyl could open many people up to a host of drug charges, from trafficking to conspiracy. Because the sale resulted in Prince’s death, it would increase the chances that someone could get the maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted, Turner said.Turner said he believed there was a good chance someone will eventually be charged. Improved forensics tools, including the ability to use narcotics chemical signatures to narrow down possible manufacturers, also increase the chances of arrests.If China- or Mexico-based producers were involved, American authorities may have to focus on a dealer or doctor in the U.S. who supplied the drugs knowing the substance was illegal, Turner said. But U.S. agents can and do go after suspects based in countries not inclined to closely cooperate with law enforcement here, such as China.The drugs could also be made by people who are not associated with cartels. Enticed by big profits, small-time drug dealers are buying pill presses online and using low-cost fentanyl powder from China to make fake pills, according to a July 2016 Drug Enforcement Administration intelligence brief.Dealers unaffiliated with drug cartels can buy a kilogram of fentanyl powder for a few thousand dollars from a Chinese supplier and turn it into hundreds of thousands of counterfeit pills for millions of dollars in profit.But inexperience has a cost. The small-time operators aren’t mixing fentanyl correctly and turning out pills with varying strengths, some containing three times a lethal dose. “Such wide disparity in dosing reveals that the producers were likely new to incorporating fentanyl in pill production, as the fentanyl was not thoroughly mixed with the other powders before binding and pressing into pills,” the DEA brief said.Pissetzky said news of the falsely labeled drugs tells him that the pills did not come from a doctor.“There’s a big, big black market for counterfeit drugs. When people buy these, they don’t personally know, many times, that they are not the real thing, and that’s when you get overdoses,” Pissetzky said.Tarm reported from Chicago. Associated Press writer Carla K. Johnson also contributed to this report from Chicago.
Holika Dahan Holika Dahan or the burning of Holika will take place across Guyana on the night before the Phagwah celebrations. The festival of Holi gets its name from this very ritual of Holika Dahan. The phrase Holika Dahan literally means burning Holika. The day when Holika is burnt is also known as Choti Holi or small Holi. The people create a bonfire on this day and celebrate the triumph of good over evil.It is stated in the Vedas that one day before the Holikotsav a sacred fire was burnt and specific mantras to ward off evil were recited during the burning ritual. The fire was burnt with the objective to destroy the demonic forces.Some texts also mention a different version of Holika Dahan. According the texts, the parched cereals and grains are collectively called ‘Holka’ in Sanskrit.It is believed that the word Holi or Holika is derived from Holka or grains. These parched grains were used to perform ‘hawana’ or sacred fire.The sacred ash obtained from this fire ritual was known as the Bhumi Hari. This ash was smeared on the forehead of the person participating in the ritual to keep away evil spirits. Till date, this ritual of offering food grains to the bonfire is followed.The preparations of Holika Dahan start 40 days before the festival. People gather twigs, logs, dry leaves etc. Then on the night of Phalgun Purnima, the bonfire is set alight amidst chanting of the Rakshogana mantras which help to ward off evil spirits. Next morning the ashes of the fire are collected and smeared on the body before taking a bath.The burning of Holika signifies the triumph of good over evil and that the bad forces around you can never win if you have a strong will. Holika represents the negative forces which get burnt against the strong will of human which is denoted by Prahlad. One of the foundational principles of Hindusim is good only begotten good and it is instilled in the minds of all Hindus from a young age. They are taught to do good deeds as a way of life. They are taught that one’s soul only attains Moksha (liberation in this life) through good karma (deeds). Around this time, we are quite often reminded about the consequences of good karma with the celebration of Holi-the festival of colours.Holi or Phagwah as we know it is the Spring Festival celebrated on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (Phalguna Purnima), which usually falls in the later part of February or March. There are several legends, depending on the various areas you are living in. However, the most common legend is the story of young Prahlad and his evil aunt Holika signifying the triumph of good over evil.The Legend There was once a demon king by the name of King Hiranyakashyapu who won over the Kingdom of Earth through years of prayers. He was the King of the demonic Asuras and according to the Bhagavata Purana he was granted a boon (wish) that he could be killed by neither a human being nor an animal, neither indoors nor outdoors, neither at day nor at night, neither by astra (projectile weapons) nor by any shastra (handheld weapons), and neither on land nor in water or air.After he received his boon, Hiranyakashyapu became so egoistic that he commanded everybody in his kingdom to worship only him. But to his great disappointment, his son, Prahlad became an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu-the sustainer of the universe and refused to worship his father.Hiranyakashyapu tried several ways to kill his son Prahlad but Lord Vishnu saved him every time. Finally, he asked his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap. For, Hiranyakashyapu knew that Holika had a boon, whereby, she could enter the fire unscathed.Treacherously, Holika coaxed young Prahlad to sit in her lap and she herself took her seat in a blazing fire. The legend has it that Holika had to pay the price of her sinister desire by her life. Holika was not aware that the boon worked only when she entered the fire alone.Prahlad, who kept chanting the name of Lord Vishnu while in the fire with his aunt, came out unharmed, as the lord blessed him for his extreme devotion. Thus, Holi derives its name from Holika. And, is celebrated as a festival of victory of good over evil.Holi is also celebrated as the triumph of a devotee. As the legend depicts that anybody, howsoever strong, cannot harm a true devotee and those who dare torture a true devotee of god shall be reduced to ashes.After the fire destroyed the evil Holika, King Hiranyakashyapu became enraged and attempted to kill Prahlad himself. However, Vishnu, the god who appears as an avatar (form) to restore Dharma in Hindu beliefs, took the form of Narasimha – half human and half lion, at dusk (when it was neither day nor night), took Hiranyakashyapu at a doorstep (which was neither indoors nor outdoors), placed him on his lap (which was neither land, water nor air), and then eviscerated and killed the king with his lion claws (which were neither a handheld weapon nor a launched weapon).
1 Sunderland are ready to splash £17m on Benfica midfielder Andreas Samaris.Black Cats boss David Moyes suggested he is unlikely to bring in any players this month who could make a “big difference,” but reports in Portugal believe Samaris will be the exception. The 27-year-old, who has over 25 caps for Greece, has been linked with a move to the Premier League in the past.Indeed back in the summer Middlesbrough were eyeing up an approach for the midfielder, but they couldn’t agree a fee for him.And now, according to O Jogo, Samaris could be on his way to Sunderland instead in a deal worth around £17m.The Black Cats are in the market for reinforcements during the current transfer window and Moyes has identified the Greece international.Samaris would still need to give the green light to the switch, but it is reported a move to Sunderland would see him double his wages. The 27-year-old has over 25 caps for Greece