Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Law and the Preservation of Ancient Sites in Action -- Rotherwas Ribbon - UK

The Campaign to save the ancient Rotherwas Ribbon (Rotherwas Serpent) in the United Kingdom appears to be moving along successfully.

I received the following letter from the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport

RANSON GERRY <GERRY.RANSON@Culture.gsi.gov.uk>
Sent : Tuesday, August 7, 2007 4:09 PM
To : <kaulinsandis@msn.com>
Subject : CMS 75510 Rotherwas Ribbon

Dear Mr Kaulins,

Thank you for your email of 9 July about the preservation of the 'Rotherwas Ribbon' site. I have been asked to reply.

Under current legislation, adding a site to the Schedule of Monuments is the only legal protection specifically for archaeological sites, although there are alternatives to scheduling such as using the system of local authority control over planning applications to ensure that any development proposals take archaeology fully into account. Scheduling is applied only to sites of national importance, and even then only if it is the best means of protection. Decisions on national importance are guided by criteria laid down by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and cover the basic characteristics of monuments. These are:

    • extent of survival
    • current condition
    • rarity
    • representivity, either through diversity or because of one important attribute
    • importance of the period to which the monument dates
    • fragility
    • connection to other monuments, or group value
    • potential to contribute to our information, understanding and appreciation
    • extent of documentation enhancing the monument's significance

As expert advisors to the DCMS, English Heritage takes the lead in identifying sites in England which should be placed on the schedule by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. DCMS has asked English Heritage to consider and advise the Secretary of State about whether the site of the 'Rotherwas Ribbon' should be placed on the schedule. English Heritage Inspectors visited the site on the afternoon of 9 July. A decision on scheduling will be taken in due course and will be informed by further analysis and interpretation of the site.

In the meantime, the remains are very fragile, and while English Heritage agrees with Herefordshire Council that controlled public access should be afforded, they will ensure the local authority covers the remains to protect them from bad weather. In the long term, English Heritage considers that this is a significant find worthy of being fully recorded for future research and protected in-situ. Each part of the find is very fragile and by keeping the remains in their context they can help us understand how people used to live in this landscape setting. English Heritage will make sure the local authority has access to its expertise in this process.

Yours sincerely,
Gerry Ranson

Gerry Ranson

Central Information & Briefing Unit
Department of Culture, Media & Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH

0207 211 6179

DCMS aims to improve the quality of life for all through cultural and sporting activities, to support the pursuit of excellence and to champion the tourism, creative and leisure industries.


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Patent Sanity Slowly Returning to the USA: Judge Rudi Brewster Throws Out Absurd MP3 Jury Verdict in Microsoft Battle against Alcatel-Lucent

As we already noted in discussing the impact of the Supreme Court's KSR decision:

"There is no question that KSR will become one of the most cited decisions in law generally and that it will have a tremendous impact on patent law and litigation."

In KSR (KSR International Co. vs. Teleflex, Inc. (No. 04-1350, slip opinion)), the Supreme Court in its unanimous decision clearly indicated to the legal community that the pendulum of patent law had begun to swing in the direction of common sense and away from the outrageous awards being granted to undeserving patent trolls.

The changed direction of the swing of the patent pendulum is shown by Judge Rudi Brewster's reversal of a record $1.5 billion jury award in an MP3 patent dispute between Microsoft and Alcatel-Lucent.

We posted vociferously about that case in February under the title Patent Insanity in the USA Continues as Jury Awards Record MP3 Verdict. We were one of the few voices on the internet or elsewhere to correctly raise the loud sound of alarm and we express our continued surprise that the legal community in general did not, often being seemingly preoccupied with banalities rather than with the most important cases of our day, such as this case is.

For the details, see:

CNET News Blog at News.com, Tom Krazit, Microsoft wins reversal of MP3 patent decision

Bloomberg News, Jeff St.Onge and Crayton Harrison, Microsoft Judge Negates Alcatel-Lucent MP3 Patent Win (Update3)

Although this case does not involve the KSR obviousness issue, KSR is nevertheless starting to throw its long shadow over patent law generally. The US Supreme Court, by its decision in KSR, has sent off the long-needed signal to the legal community that sanity must return to US patent law application and interpretaton, and this sanity IS returning. Judge Rudi Brewster's decision is strong evidence of that.

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