According to yesterday’s Pforzheimer Zeitung, I am told (thanks, Derek!), the Low German word Läägeünnerloage is to be registered as a utility model (Gebrauchsmuster – does not exist in the UK at the moment).
Das plattdeutsche Wort Läägeünnerloage wird doch als Gebrauchsmuster eingetragen.
To search the Pforzheimer Zeitung archives, you have to register and then wait for details by email. I’m still waiting.
Anyway, the Bremen lawyer Klaus Göken represented Twistringer RBM Dränfilter GmbH, who created a sort of biodegradable mat for cattle to lie on. The High German term would be Liegeunterlage (literally lying-underlay), but Twistringer wanted the local dialect version. The German Patent Office refused it, and Göken took it all the way to the Federal Court of Justice, which sent it back to the Patent Office.
The first application was made in Low German in February 2000. There is a provision in German law that the language of the courts is German, so the question arose as to whether Low German is German.
I found an English summary of the beginning of the case (starts on page 6, and the document contains more information about minority languages in Germany). According to this, a second application in High German was accepted:
bq. In its defense the office reasoned that had the Lower German version
been accepted, a precedent would have been set, leading to an
unavoidable abundance of applications in other dialects and minority
languages; this would make official procedures incomprehensible.
The office reiterated that the administrative language and that of the
court must be an understandable form of German, that is High
German. However, Göken is planning to address the jury in Lower
Did Göken address the jury (what jury?!? some translator slipped up here, I fear) in Lower German? The Pforzheimer Zeitung, far from the Plattdeutsch lands, is silent.
Here is a brief dpa report (in German) dated September 3rd. The above page on Klaus Göken in German. A report from the Institute for the Low German Language (in High German). The Pforzheimer Zeitung, but not the link in question. And something in English about utility models in Germany.
The item itself has been almost forgotten in all this language disputing. It is selling very well, creates warmth and there are 10% to 15% fewer deaths among piglets as a result.
I am very late reporting this – the Federal Court of Justice really decided the point last November. Here is a German report from www.jura-lotse.de. It has probably been blogged. Sure enough, here is a report from Handakte WebLAWg.