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It’s a shoe.

It’s always refreshing to see established rules and mindsets being shaken by new developments. In particular when this concerns fundamental things such as the definition of clothes.

Recently the distinction between a shoe and a mini computer were blurred by Adidas and their Adidas_1 and this has now become the case for lawyers in Germany. Why? Well, because shoes are clothes and clothes you can simply dispose off by throwing them out with other garbage (or even better: give them to red cross if they are still in an acceptable state). But computers, monitors and other devices fall under the law for recycling electronic waste. In particular, the manufacturer would have to offer to take them back.

The judges ruled that shoes, even if equipped with microprocessors and sensors, were still shoes and that the laws concerning e-waste did not apply to them.

I wish there were more of such cases, questioning established frames of thought. What if I print a book using edible paper and letter-shaped noodles. Do copyright restrictions also apply to food? What if I sell a book with an integrated microprocessor, can I still benefit from the lower VAT for printed material? I’m sure that there are special regulations applying to musical instruments. What if I use my vacuum cleaner exclusively to make “music”? Does the e-waste legislation apply to digital pianos? What if there are eventually biodegradable micro-processors in the food itself. [Ok, they are biodegradable, but still: how do you classify it?]

I always find it fascinating how arbitrary any rules become once you start pushing them to the extreme.


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