|Practically independent already: the European|
Patent Office -- or is it now Eponia?
"Voters will go to the polls in September to decide whether Scotland should become an independent country. But what other Europeans are pressing for independence and how closely are they watching Scotland?"Esther then lists the eight: they are, in no particular order, Catalonia, the Basque country, Flanders, Padania, Veneto, Brittany, Corsica and Transylvania (or at any rate the Hungarian-speaking part of it). This Kat has however spotted a ninth country which has pretty well established itself as an independent country within Europe: the Democratic Republic of Eponia.
Eponia is a small landlocked state mainly based in Munich, though it has established colonies in The Hague, Berlin, Vienna and Brussels. Few people are born in Eponia (though it is rumoured that quite a few have been conceived there); most are settlers -- though they prefer to call themselves by a less provocative term, Examiners.
|Patent income: a veritable cornucopia|
The European limit of the territorial reach of Eponia has been a matter of regret to its overlords, who have found the "EP"ness of its constitution something of a nuisance. So they decided to simply ignore it, and venture forth into more distant territories, such as Tunisia which, last time Merpel checked, was not by any geographical or political criterion known to be part of Europe.
The national religion of Eponia is contained in a document known as the European Patent Convention, whose Articles (far more numerous than the Church of England's mere 39) are held to have been dictated directly into the ear of Blessed Bob van Benthem by a divine voice in the form of a holy hummingbird. While of less mystical origin, the Rules are also greatly revered. Like any sacred text, its superficial meaning is open to misinterpretation, and only specially trained priests are initiated into the deeper meaning of its rites and rituals (enigmatically referred to as "Guidelines"). When sufficiently inspired, those who are closest to achieving spiritual ecstasy can be seen and heard to be "talking in tongues", which embrace English, German and French -- but never Spanish or Italian.
|"L'Etat, c'est moi!"|
The inhabitants of Eponia are restless, apart from the chosen few who enjoy the confidence of The Leader or upon whom he has cast a beneficent eye. Spurning financial inducements, they crave the opportunity to pursue their avocation in peace and tranquility, to express their thoughts without fear of retribution and to, er, sign their own names when they post comments on popular intellectual property weblogs.
Inspired by the Rule of his namesake St Benedict, The Leader expects the Examiners to take vows of stability and obedience. The vow of stability is enforced by paying them salaries higher than are available anywhere else, while the vow of obedience is enforced by the Guidelines for Investigation, which are wielded by the greatly feared Judges, who are, shall we say, Dredd-ful. Their word is law and their word is final. Cowering Examiners may not summon aid, nor keep silent to avoid self-incrimination. Their cooperation is mandatory. This however has not gone unnoticed by some of the territories in which Eponia metaphysically resides, and has dared to undertake legal, if not yet military, invasion into the sanctity of the Eponian premises.
To the public at large of Europe and further afield, the Democratic Republic, keen to attract its patent tourism Euros, issues glittering propaganda. The most magisterially handsome, appealing to zealots and bibliophiles alike, is the Official Journal, that can be bound into volumes with pleasing ballistic properties. For those who eschew such traditional means of communication, there is a handy newsletter thingamajig. But these are mere fripperies compared with the Great Pilgrimage that is ordered every year to worship at the Shrine of Inventorship, where all the renewal fees of that year are spent on the European Inventor Award, thereby distributing to the few the offerings of the many. By special Oecumenical Agreement, this is relayed to the world at large, at no little effort, by no less an organisation than CNN.
The theocracy of Eponia is not slow to learn from the religions of other territories, even those as far away as Japan. Learning at one of the meetings of the Trilateral Offices that the Ise Shrine is rebuilt every 20 years according to Shinto precepts, The Leader resolved that whereas one patent life was sufficient for Japan, perhaps two might be suitable for the Netherlands, and so decreed the creation of a replacement building after 40 years.
There is another small troubling matter that irritates The Leader. Unlike hereditary monarchs or papal clerics, his mandate does not last forever. Fortunately, the college of overlords, cunningly picked from the very organisations that benefit from the overflowing bounty of the largesse of Eponia in the form of national renewal fees and direct assistance, are biddable. The Eponians were delighted therefore to learn that the college of overlords happily extended the mandate of The Leader (well, perhaps not all of them) for a further four years. All pilgrims were however perhaps surprised that the extension was approved without the details of the contract being finalised: these little details, such as presumably the pitiful associated emoluments, were left for subsequent private agreement between The Leader and the chief of the overlords.
And here we leave Eponia for the time being, to focus on the goings-on in other regimes but secure in the knowledge that readers of this weblog will continue to keep us informed of the happenings in this curious little fiefdom. Meanwhile, thanks to all of you who have kindly kept us informed of latest events there. There are too many of you for me to name here,and many of you must, on pain of losing your jobs, remain content for the time being with receiving just an anonymous Katpat.