A standardized European Convention on the Sale of Goods by no means sells itself

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On 11 October 2011 the European Commission decided on a proposal for an ordinance on a common European Convention on the Sale of Goods. The convention is set to further develop the single, standardized European market. At present, when it comes to cross-border trade between companies and overseas purchases by consumers, the 27 different national legal systems of the individual member states continue to apply in spite of the single market, which in practice represents a hindrance to both small-scale exporters and consumers.

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Uniform data protection law planned for the EU

The uniform data protection law planned by the EU Commission will create savings for businesses of 2.3 billion euro annually whilst ensuring the protection of citizens' data and strengthening consumer rights. In Brussels on January 25th 2012, Viviane Reding, vice-president of the EU Commission and Commissioner for Justice, put forward the Commission's proposal for a specific directive on the protection of personal data and a regulation setting out the general EU framework for data protection.

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Threats to Non-U.S. Companies from the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

By David Smyth, Brooks Pierce

Among the international business community, few law enforcement matters in recent years have attracted as much interest as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ("FCPA"). Enforcement of the FCPA – conducted by both the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") – has been intense and increasing over the last decade. As Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said late last year, "FCPA enforcement is stronger than it's ever been – and getting stronger." And while the FCPA is a United States law, it poses great risks for non-United States companies and individuals; severe liability can follow from disregarding it.

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Poorly conceived patent applications hinder inventions

There is a trend proliferating: With increasing frequency, companies are attempting to register even small changes to an already introduced product as a patent. Although, often without success. Only one in four applications are accepted. It is the truly innovative developer who must bear the consequence, in the form of a longer processing time with the patent authorities. Experts at the OECD therefore warn, in their publication "Science, Technologie and Industry Scoreboard 2011", that patent applications of lower quality could delay the introduction of innovations to the market.

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The long path to a standardized European patent

Globalization quickly covers over economic weaknesses. One of Europe's weaknesses is the fact that patent costs are too high when compared internationally. Therefore, in future innovations should become more easily and inexpensively protected with an EU patent. Following successful negotiations regarding European patents with a standardized effect, twelve of the 27 EU Member States decided to suggest to the EU Commission that the process of so-called reinforced cooperation is introduced. This should prevent a blockade by the individual states.

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