Friday fripperies

With some of the Kats away at INTA in San Francisco, here's some Friday fun, if not quite Friday fantasies....

From South Africa comes the news of a dispute over the mark 'Bafana Bafana', which is the nickname of South Africa's national football team. Several news sites, including German website FAZ, report that a third party (a bsuiness man of the name Stanton Woodrush) managed to register the nick name 'Bafana Bafana' as a trade mark. The South African Football Association (Safa) is now considering whether to buy the mark or whether simply renaming the team might be the better option, albeit perhaps not the cheaper one. According to South African website The New Age both parties are already in negotiations over a sale of the mark. However, it appears that there also politicians involved and a spokesperson for the South African Ministry of Sports is cited as insisting that all South African citizens should be involved "on a consultative process" as regards to the "the handling of the Bafana name". According to the FAZ report the Safa simply forgot registering the trade mark at the South African registry when the nick name first became popular.

Our readers may recall our reports on Louis Vuitton v Plesner on the tussle between the famous fashion house Louis Vuitton and Dutch artist Nadia Plesner over the incorporation by the latter of a Community design-protected pattern owned by the former into Darfurnica inspired by Picasso's painting Guernica (see IPKat reports here and here). The artist herself has published her very personal account of this dispute on her website which makes some interesting reading. The website also includes an English and Dutch version translation of the court decision in the case.

Finally, an update on the rather bizarre German PhD plagiarism saga now involving not only one but two top German politicans as well as the daughter of Bavaria's former state Governor. Some of our readers may recall the IPKat's post on the plagiarism row surrounding former German defence minister and (former) political superstar Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg (naughtily nicknamed "Dr Googleberg") recently resigned from office following allegations that he had plagiarized large parts of his “summa cum laude” doctoral thesis in law.

The University of Bayreuth has now published its findings of an investigation into these accusations. The sobering result: the thesis was sprinkled with deliberate plagiarism. Furthermore, the university found that even if the thesis had been Guttenberg's own work, then it would not have deserved the top mark "summa cum laude". The full investigation results can be retrieved on the university's website here. If you are wondering why the PhD supervisor and the second examiner never noticed anything, then you are definitely not alone.

You would think that this a very rare case, but no, German liberal democrat and media darling Silvana Koch-Mehrin this week (on the right) also decided to quit from all political offices, following allegations of plagiarism in her PhD thesis. These allegations are already being investigated by the University of Heidelberg where Koch-Mehrin graduated with a doctorate in philosophy. As in the case of Guttenberg, Internet activists from the "VroniPlag Wiki website" started the allegations (at this point these are just allegations I should stress). The results of the investigation will be published in early June.

Just because all good things come in threes, we also learnt this week that Veronica Sass, the daughter of German politician Edmund Stoiber, has been stripped of her doctorate in law by the University of Konstanz. This again happened after a tip off by the "VroniPlag Wiki website". According to the findings by the University of Konstanz Frau Sass appears to have copied 40 pages of her thesis from other sources ("word by word") without acknowledging the sources. What's unclear is whether any of the copyright holders have decided to take legal action. The State Prosecution in Hof, Bavaria has the ungrateful task of investigating zu Guttenberg's criminal law liability. Not the last we heard about this ...

The obsession with academic titles seems to me a rather German phenomenon says this Kat but this reflects very badly on Germany's academia. And,it annoys those that worked hard on achieving their degrees without cheating, one might add, grumbles Merpel.
Friday fripperies Friday fripperies Reviewed by Birgit Clark on Friday, May 13, 2011 Rating: 5

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