Five Lessons Learnt This Week

Five Lessons Learnt is our weekly round-up of all the crazy, funny and strange news of the week. Perfect for a bit of Friday afternoon entertainment and a light-hearted look at what’s been going on away from the charts!

This week in Five Lessons Learnt: what you should do when you retire, who came out on top in the battle of the sweets and the monkey copyright debate, and why Volkswagon have had a worse week than you…

1. How everyone should spend their retirement

Don’t succumb to spending your golden years in an armchair wearing slippers and smoking a pipe. Instead, make like Texan Eugene Bostick and do something useful with your retirement.

According to Eugene, his most important work began the day he retired, when he embarked on a new career path of sorts – as a train conductor for dogs. The lively 80-year-old lives on a farm at the bottom of a “dead end” street where puppies and unwanted dogs are often dumped. So he’s taken in countless dogs over the years, feeding them and giving them a home on his farm. And then he decided it would be nice to take them on little trips, so he set about created a canine-specific form of transportation just for them – and the dog train was born.

Eugene’s train has now been in action for over 15 years, though he does worry that he won’t be able to keep it up much longer, given that he’s now 80. Any volunteers to take over?

2. Who came out on top in the battle of the sweets

By Thomas Rosenau (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
The Lindt teddy took on Haribo’s golden bear in a court battle this week to fend off Haribo’s claims that the Switzerland chocolatier’s bear infringed their bear trademark. And fans of the Lindt teddy will be pleased to know that the chocolate bear emerged victorious in the battle of the sweets.

Lindt argued that the design didn’t draw on Haribo’s bears but was actually inspired by the design of their famous bunnies, and the German Federal Court decided there were numerous other ways to describe the bear just as well as “gold bear”. The eventual decision was that there were not sufficient grounds for infringement if the trademarked words were only one way of describing the product.

Stay tuned next week for Kit Kat V Smarties…

3. …and who won the copyright war over the famous monkey selfie

You might remember a while back we wrote about the copyright battle that ensued when a monkey named Naruto grabbed an unsuspecting nature photographer’s camera to snap a selfie? Well, it turns out Naruto does give a monkeys about his legal rights…

Sorry. Moving on swiftly, the rare crested macaque monkey now stands to receive damages from British photographer David Slater after PETA filed a lawsuit stating that as Naruto took the photographs in “voluntary and purposeful actions unaided by Slater”, he therefore has the right to own and benefit from the copyright just as any other author would.

Slater, of course, is contesting the claim, and told Reuters he was “rather bemused” by the lawsuit, which he thinks is  a publicity stunt. There’s also an argument for a counter-suit based on the fact Naruto took and used Slater’s camera without permission – this could get messy.

4. What counts as a sport

cardsA High Court judge is set to decide whether or not bridge counts as a sport after a dispute between the English Bridge Union and Sport England. As usual with this sort of thing, money is at the centre of the dispute – basically, if bridge is deemed to be a sport, it’ll be valid for a number of grants and competitions exempt from VAT payment.

Legally, a sport is required to be “an activity that promotes health, involving physical or mental skill or exertion”, so the EBU’s argument is that bridge has known health benefits and does require mental skill. A judge involved in the lawsuit also added “you are doing more physical activity playing bridge, with all that shuffling and dealing, than in something like rifle shooting”.

The verdict is yet to be decided, but we reckon by that argument, pretty much anything could be deemed a sport…

5. Volkswagon aren’t all that reliable after all…

And in a week that will undoubtedly go down in history as “VW-gate”, the very car manufacturer who billed entire marketing campaigns around their “reliability” USP were revealed to have been manipulating emissions tests.

Diesel vehicles with 1.6 and 2.0 litre diesel engines in the US and Europe are affected by the manipulations, which saw VW using “defeat devices” to fool emissions tests into believing the vehicles met environmental standards. At least 482,000 cars are to be recalled and the carmaker could face penalties of more than $18bn – and that’s in the US alone, with Europe still to be investigated. As a result, a number of the top dogs at Audi, VW and Porsche will be kissing their jobs goodbye this week.

VW has set aside an initial £4.7bn to cover the fallout and win back customers’ trust – which probably won’t even scratch the surface of recouping the damage. So it’s fair to say it’s not been a good week over at VW HQ…

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