Getting one over on the Department…without getting out of bed

So, the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism set up ‘Culture Ireland’ as a specialised agency. Tragically, though, they had let the domain name www.cultureireland.ie expire, and had to go a-looking for it back. (After spending loadsa(public)money on printing up letterheads etc with the addresss on it, in fact). The new registrant, ‘Odyssey Internet Portal Limited, Dublin‘ didn’t respond to the dispute resolution proceedings at WIPO, and normally in this case, the complainant (especially when a part of a national government!) wipo’s the floor and gets their name back.

But not this time. Oh no.

The Department didn’t bring proper evidence, and couldn’t even convince the panel of the marketing, promotion etc that they had already put in place. And so they concluded..

In light of the lack of detail concerning the period, nature and extent of the Complainant’s use of the name “Culture Ireland”,

Strike one.

the failure of the Complainant to provide any evidence at all in support of its assertions,

Strike two.

and the highly descriptive nature of the name,

Strike three!

the Panel finds that it does not have sufficient information to conclude – even prima facie – that the name “Culture Ireland” is, or has become, distinctive of the Complainant and/or its services.

Oh dear. Who’s going to tell the Minister?

And then the final insult. Just like losing an election to a dead guy. (Hi, John Ashcroft).

This is notwithstanding that the Registrant has not contested the Complainant’s case.

Ouch.

Full report from WIPO. Thanks to Ambrand.com for spotting this.

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Now you see it, now you don’t!

In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives*, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years. (New York Times, 21.2.06)

* the US of A version

And in a spectacular irony, “eight reclassified documents had been previously published in the State Department’s history series, ‘Foreign Relations of the United States.'” Very clever. I’m sure that most functionaries in the State department (and the various versions thereof that lie around the world) would love to get released papers (e.g. under the 30 year rule), and put them back into hiding, but they’ve already had one shot at it – not all documents are released and some are protected for many years – so this is a little bit unreasonable.

The National Archives responded today, saying that they are now auditing the reclassification programme. However, they weren’t very forthcoming on the scale of the operation or how/why it was approved in the first place.

Dime barred

A shocking 37 million Americans live in poverty. That is 12.7 per cent of the population – the highest percentage in the developed world. They are found from the hills of Kentucky to Detroit’s streets, from the Deep South of Louisiana to the heartland of Oklahoma. Each year since 2001 their number has grown.

37 million poor hidden in the land of plenty (Observer, 19th February)

This is something that tends to get lost in the popular understanding of the rich United States destroying and lording it over the rest of the world. In reality, it’s a certain sub-strand within the US that has the power and ability to inflict such on other countries; the masses of people trying to pull off the minimum-wage-survival trick don’t really have a direct involvement in international politics.

A very good portrayal of the low-wage economy in the US is Barbara Ehrenreich’s book ‘Nickel and Dimed’, which is a first-person account of Ehrenreich’s experiences working in minimum-wage jobs over the course of some months, with strong background material (Ehrenrich has been publishing on social issues since the 70s and is a serious writer on sociology, economics, feminism etc). She blogs too, and wrote this week on the growth in low-paid jobs as seen in US labour statistics.

Finally..

So, I have somehow managed to get WordPress set up on my own space, and now have one less excuse to start blogging again. So hello. And thanks to Ross Wynne for the provision of the webspace.

Anyway, a number of housekeeping announcements first. Here is my previous blog, Travels on Route 42 (no longer online), which withered away at the start of last summer. That was a sort of mixed personal/public blog; but this effort is intended to be more public. That is to say, you shouldn’t have to know me or where I live to make sense of it! I intend on using the ‘categories’ function to try and mark out unrelated content anyway, although in my head it’s all related anyway.

As for who I am and what I do…more information will be added in a separate part of the site, but for now, here’s the highlights. I’m a postgraduate research student at Trinity College Dublin (in Ireland), in the early stages of what will become a PhD on media regulation / ‘cyberlaw’. So much of what will be posted here will relate to that topic. I also have a side interest in higher education policy, as a member of the Bologna process committee of ESIB, the European association of students’ unions. Other stuff I’ll be blogging about include politics, music, and other usual suspects. Oh, and I work as a library assistant, so occasional dispatches will be of the bibliographic kind.