EU trademark sparks gamers’ hopes for Fallout 4

Fallout 3 on a screen

Is Bethesda working on Fallout 4? (CC Adam Fagen via Flickr)

The EU’s Office for the Harmonization of the Internal Market (OHIM) does usually not attract much public attention, but a trademark filed last week caused gamers worldwide to speculate about a potential continuation of Bethesda Softworks’ Fallout series.

The rumours started after the gaming website The Vault spotted two trademark applications for the name “Fallout 4”.

The gaming community admitted that Bethesda could have simply filed the trademarks to protect their intellectual property, but said that the video game developer followed a similar procedure before releasing first clues about a previous part of the series.

The Spain-based OHIM is the European Union’s central registry for trademarks and designs for the EU’s internal market. According to OHIM, the organisation has registered more than one million trademarks since its creation in 1996, but mostly legal and business publications report on it.

Fallout is a series of video games set in a post-apocalyptic and retrofuturistic world, which many magazines rated among the best role-playing games.

Faroe Islands take on European Union in fishing war

Herring catch (public domain)

Imports of Faroese herring were banned by EU authorities

The small Faroe Islands (50.000 inhabitants) launched a trade battle with the European Union in a David and Goliath contest over EU trade sanctions on its fish.

The islands in the North Atlantic dispute a EU ban on importing Faroese mackerel and herring and restricting vessels to enter EU ports in an official request to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The Faroese Prime Minister Kaj Leo Holm Johannesen said in a statement: “The measures implemented by the EU are in clear contravention of basic provisions of the WTO Agreement.”

EU authorities agreed on a ban of Faroese fish in August, after the territory between Norway and Iceland decided to raise its catch limit of herring to just above 105.000 tonnes per year. The European Union wants to restrict the islands to a limit of 31.000 tonnes.

Trade battle is a modern-day version of Asterix and Obelix

With its trade challenge to the EU the small Faroe Islands appear like a modern-day version of Asterix and Obelix versus the Roman Empire: The islands find themselves in a very isolated situation. They are a self-governed territory of Denmark – Denmark supports the Faroese battle for its fish without taking a clear side – but do not belong to the European Union.

Taking on the overpowering European Union in a “fishing war” could pay off for the islands: Fishing accounts for over 90 per cents of the territory’s exports; higher catch quotas could therefore significantly boost the Faroese fishing industry.

Harbour of Klaksvik, Faroe Islands

Over 90% of Faroese exports is fish (CC Arne List)

The Faroese government argues that many mackerels and herrings have moved into its territorial waters in recent years and that a higher catch limit would not endanger the species.

“Contrary to claims by the EU that the measures are a means to conserve the Atlanto-Scandian herring, the coercive measures implemented by the EU against the Faroe Islands appear designed to protect EU industry interests,” Faroese PM Johannesen said.

60 days to prevent EU-Faroese showdown

Until the raise of the catch limits Norway, Russia, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and the European Union jointly managed the herring stock in the Northern Atlantic Ocean.

For now the trade battle over import bans is not yet in full swing, as the EU and Faroe Islands have 60 days to settle their dispute.

If they cannot find an agreement, the WTO will be asked to adjudicate and the David and Goliath battle will see its showdown.

Same toilet flush across Europe – “money down the pan”?

Not even toilets are safe from EU standards

Not even toilets are safe from EU standards

A limit of five litres for a toilet flush will be introduced for the European Union’s Ecolabel next week. Half-flushes will be limited to three litres and urinals to one litre, according to a draft for the bog standard.

Toilets in EU member states must meet the criteria in order to be awarded the Ecolabel. The European Commission gives the label to a range of environmentally friendly products.

The Commission said that the label was no standardisation for toilet flushes, as it would not force anyone to limit the water used on the loo.

“Ecolabels are NOT compulsory. This is not a Regulation, nobody will be asked or forced to install new toilets. The eco-label is entirely voluntary”, Joe Hennon, European Commission Spokesperson for Environment said.

A 63-page EU report (PDF version) suggests that the new limits could help to save up to 50% of the water depending on the type of toilet.

“Ecolabel criteria are beneficial both for the environment and our wallets. Ecolabel toilets will bring about water efficiency, lower water pollution and eutrophication, as well as cost savings to businesses and consumers in the form of lower water bills”, Hennon said.

UKIP politician: "

UKIP politician: Bog report is “money down the pan”

Euro-sceptics criticised the report on Europe’s toilets, which reportedly cost €84.000 (£72,000). Paul Nuttall from UK Independence Party (UKIP), called the study a ‘preposterous waster of money’.

‘Surely what goes on behind the bathroom door should be left to the people who are behind it. It is money down the pan’, he told the Daily Mail.

According to the EU report, people in the UK (1,125 million cubic metres of water in home toilets in 2010), Italy (1,074 cubic metres) and Germany (1,021 cubic metres) use the most water for flushing the toilet.

The „euro-flush“ controversy comes one week after European Commission President José Manuel Barroso promised to cut back on red tape and to avoid excessive EU bureaucracy.