What Good Does It Do To Shut Down Trade Show Booths Over Patent Claims?

from the this-does-not-promote-the-progress dept

A somewhat bizarre situation happened in Germany earlier this week, where various demonstrators at the popular CeBit trade show had their booths raided by German police, confiscating various gadgets for infringing on patents. Patent law is a bit different in Germany, allowing this type of seizure, but I can't understand what sort of practical reason there could be for allowing such a thing. No one was directly selling these products, just demonstrating them. Second, confiscating the products ruins the tradeshow appearance for these companies without them having a chance to defend themselves against the charges of infringement. I could understand preventing the sale of products after it's proven in a trial that infringement occurred, but to simply confiscate display gadgets without a trial seems counterproductive. All it's really going to do is convince consumer electronics companies not to go to German trade shows any more, and focus on showing off new innovations in other countries.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    John Duncan Yoyo, Mar 7th, 2008 @ 4:20pm

    Holy Streisand effect what was seized and what did it do?

    Seems to that you would want something from a stolen patent to make lots of money for your competitor so there is something to sue for later.

     

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  2.  
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    Stephan Kinsella (profile), Mar 7th, 2008 @ 4:56pm

    Agreed

    Right: in the US system, infringement is making, using, selling, or offering to sell a patented item--which one of these were the trade show people doing?

     

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    Jake, Mar 7th, 2008 @ 5:58pm

    Re: Agreed

    Offering to sell, presumably, though I'd love to know how they got that past the judge who swore out the warrant.

     

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    mike allen, Mar 8th, 2008 @ 12:03am

    GPS and mobile phones MP3 and MP4 gadgets though i dont understand why they took blank media DVDs and CDs dont make sence. Perhaps the german police couldnt find the police station and needed a GPS linked to a MP4 creen and DVDs and CDs to put the route on for next time.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2008 @ 12:45am

    Re: Re: Agreed

    Offering to sell, presumably, though I'd love to know how they got that past the judge who swore out the warrant.

    What judge? What warrant? That's the whole point. These raids and confiscations are being carried out without trial.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2008 @ 12:47am

    Re: Agreed

    Right: in the US system, infringement is making, using, selling, or offering to sell a patented item--which one of these were the trade show people doing?

    Um, none of the above? There were only allegations of infringement.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2008 @ 12:58am

    Shakedown

    This seems to be getting be to a recurring thing in Germany. Patent trolls target trade show exhibitors and demand what amounts to protection money to avoid being raided by the police in the middle of the show. Even though their patents may be bogus or otherwise not apply, they still threaten to file complaints with the police. And without a trial, who's to say? The police then happily comply and apply "enforcement" against those who don't pay up.

    Aren't patents great?

     

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  8.  
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    Pete, Mar 8th, 2008 @ 3:54am

    They used more then 180 police and customs officials to perform the raid, excuse me but isn't that a little bit of overkill, I mean get real it was not like they were raiding a wharehouse full of gun-toting drug dealers. To me this stinks of political grandstanding or have the brownshirts been resurrected.

     

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  9.  
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    Gunter Hiemlich von Fruedenstein, Mar 9th, 2008 @ 11:11am

    Germans need an outlet for their fascist tendencies. Social persecution (by the state) has become such taboo that mindless economic persecution is how it is manifest. This has been a constant in german society since the huns and it really turns ugly a couple of times per century.

     

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  10.  
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    fluffy, Mar 9th, 2008 @ 3:41pm

    there

    goes godwins law!

    but for the special legislation situation in germany - they could have filed charges involving private law, but cleverly they acted in using civil law. that bought them a search and take warrant for the exhibition.
    german courts are kinda forced to do this, if the accused is not reacting to letters from the court or is not willing to pay the fine associated with refraining from copywrong infringement...
    same is to be said for filesharer cases in which the accused are offered to pay either a ridiculous amount of money to the accusing lawyers or a even more ridiculous amount in defending ones right in court

     

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    trepur, Mar 9th, 2008 @ 4:18pm

    old innovations?

    Given "All it's really going to do is convince consumer electronics companies not to go to German trade shows any more, and focus on showing off new innovations in other countries.", I guess they can still show off old innovations - but this is probably as redundant as a report to the apostrophe police;.)
    When Shiva dances, change follows.

     

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  12.  
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    murf, Mar 9th, 2008 @ 7:42pm

    I'd love to steal all of your posts.....

    I'd love to steal all of your posts.....and create a blog and then put my name in the byline for your creation.

    Now, of course what you write is worthless and there is so much better, smarter writing out there, but for a moment, suspend reality and let's pretend you were a smart guy and everyone loved your stuff and you got paid for this.

    OK?

    I mean what about all of the your work that I stole?...you can not be so upset I stole your work, right?...you think it is ok for others to take my ideas for free...but in your case, hey you can't do a thing because you have no money to get at me...others might search for a lawyer to take your case on contingency...there had better be some money in owning your thoughts because with writers being a dime-a-dozen, your "written product" has got to offer the reader much more than any other writer to inspire that reader to read your stuff beyond the first paragraph. That is called the MARKET. All I ask is that the market judge if I made a better mousetrap. If there is a better mouse trap, the market will tell me real quick if my patent is worthless or not.

    A bit of hyperbole, but I am certain that if this happened to you, your stuff was lifted and claimed to be written by someone else, EVEN IF YOU WERE NOT PAID, you would be doing headstands trying to get people to stop giving that thief your accolades for such good written material (those last 3 words are Fantasy)

    shit...you are not even worth the effort...you couldn't even invent anything beyond this stupid worthless shit I am seeing on the screen that you blather on about. No one reads work that reeks of someone green and unseasoned in common sense like yourself...I had better move on before your stupidity clings…..blecckk!

     

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  13.  
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    murf, Mar 9th, 2008 @ 7:49pm

    I just looked at the resume...shocking...

    :Mike worked in business development and marketing at Release Software, an e-commerce startup, and in marketing at Intel. Mike has a bachelor's degree in Industrial and Labor Relations and an MBA -- both from Cornell University."

    My best friend went to Cornell and got his MBA too.

    From what I just read, you must be making that all up. No one with that much 'education' could lack that much common sense. You got ripped off by Cornell, pal! I don't see anything here that rubbed off while you were there!

     

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  14.  
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    JB, Mar 10th, 2008 @ 9:25am

    What do you expect from Nazi's?

     

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  15.  
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    angry dude, Mar 10th, 2008 @ 12:44pm

    Re: I just looked at the resume...shocking...

    Cool down, dude

    everybody and his brother knows by now that Mikey is a paid corporate stooge and a shill for RIM
    Money doesn't stink...
    Don't take his shitty web blog for real
    for me it's just another place to shit on the internet
    After all, most of the internet nowadays is just a huge pile of useless garbage

     

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  16.  
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    Jonathan Soroko, Mar 10th, 2008 @ 1:18pm

    legality of German practice

    I don't this is prohibited by American law. I'm an attorney - this isn't exactly my area of practice - but I believe this is the same as arranging to have police or federal marshals seize copyright-infringing materials. If you can persuade a judge that the law's been violated, and that the opportunity to seize the evidence is time-limited - you might well get an order. The wisdom of enforcing the order a trade show - that's another question.

     

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  17.  
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    Jake, Mar 10th, 2008 @ 8:15pm

    Re: legality of German practice

    I'm no lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that not many EU members permit search-and-seizure without a warrant in civil rather than criminal matters. I would assume that Mr Soroko's example is pretty much what happened. Either way, I must say I would not wish to be the guy who brought the complaint if the patent-infringement suit is dismissed; I suspect the maximum penalty for wasting police time is rather stiff in Germany.

     

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  18.  
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    Bill S, Mar 11th, 2008 @ 4:12am

    German Practice ... What about here in the US?

    Happened to us here in the good ol USA.
    We started a small two person company with a great new technology on a wing and a prayer. (read .. underfunded) We worked at for a year to get a prototype of product built and tested. The product we designed was innovative and would have been the only one on the market that had its capabilities and at a very attractive price. We scheduled a introduction at a major industry Trade show. Minutes after the show opened, the US Marshalls confiscated our prototype, all of our marketing materials, our laptops with all of our documentation, marketing and customer info and they even went through our personal suitcases. A large company from the UK found a US law firm who went to a small district court with an elderly judge and got him to sign a emergency order on the grounds that we were stealing and revealing their proprietary technology. Our equipment went to the UK so the other company could “evaluate it to determine if we were using their technology”. Long story … we ran out of lawyer $$ fast and was never able to get our property back. The other company is now releasing a product with the same look and software interface as ours and touting a complete re-engineering of their former product. We couldn’t find a reputable law firm that would take on the case for less than $220K. We found out that it was a common tactic for this law firm to use this judge in cases like this and that they always win. In the final ruling the judge ordered me and my partner to refrain from working in any way in this field for five years. No it wasn’t right, I’m sure not legal but without the $$ you can’t fight it. You’ll say that this can not happen …. It did and it does.

     

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  19.  
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    angry dude, Mar 11th, 2008 @ 10:12am

    Re: German Practice ... What about here in the US?

    "A large company from the UK found a US law firm who went to a small district court with an elderly judge and got him to sign a emergency order on the grounds that we were stealing and revealing their proprietary technology"

    Please, be more specific
    You are not telling the whole story here.....
    That's not accidental patent infringement you are talking about...
    Sounds more like industrial espionage or plain theft on your part...
    retarded techdirt readers might get wrong impression

     

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  20.  
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    Bill S, Mar 11th, 2008 @ 3:43pm

    Re: Re: German Practice ... What about here in the

    The plaintiffs never claimed patented infringement, they had nothing patented. They were claiming that we copied their product directly and relabeled it …. even stating that “We intend to introduce evidence that they are working with Chinese company”, they never did introduce such evidence. (We were not working with anyone else) The customers for this product specify a certain form factor and interface for this device and all of them on the market look and talk alike, the difference is inside and how it performs its tasks. Inside the box, our product was completely different mechanically, electrically and most importantly unique technology used to accomplish its task. Nothing we submitted after we ran out of money for the lawyer was accepted by the court even though we spent considerable effort preparing documentation in the proper way according to the court's pro-se guide. We were never associated with this UK company and we submitted affidavits from independent experts here describing that we were not using anything close to their technology. My partner had worked with another minor player in the market three years before we started our business, but his former company had no issues with us. (NDA expired) We came up with a new way to serve a very niche market which the UK company was the big player and it was their major product that our product directly competed with. We did not plan our business properly, we were underfunded, didn't handle our IP properly before we announced, we did not get legal advice before doing anything and we couldn't travel 2500 miles to defend ourselves. It is our fault that we failed; the disappointing issue was that we were not heard by the court and that their technology was completely different from ours until a period AFTER they received our prototype and documentation. We had an opportunity to present our issue to an experienced Silicon Valley IP attorney, his response was this happens all of the time and unless you have the money to defend yourself, you don’t have a chance. The main lessons for me are that you MUST cover your legal bases both financially and operationally before you do anything. I truly believe that the US justice system is the best in the world but it isn't perfect and there are certain entities who know how to take advantage of that. In our case I think that the Judge only saw the side from attorneys he knew well and didn’t typically get documentation prepared by laymen. As a software engineer, I was blind to any of this and believed that if we had the best technology and were in the right, we would prevail. I'm not looking for sympathy, it's all a done deal and we have moved on quite successfully. Angry Dude’s response is fairly typical, I know there are quite a few liars and half truths on these forums; I believe that the readers of this forum are intelligent enough to make their own decisions.

     

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  21.  
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    George Kramo, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 9:49am

    reaguest for your assistanship

    From: GEORGE KRAMO
    Address: 05 BP 2304 Abidjan 05
    Cote d'Ivoire
    Dear,

    I am GEORG KRAMO, the only SON of my late parents Mr. and Mrs. Wilfred George Kramo. My father was a highly reputable business magnet who operated internationally during his days. It is sad to say that he passed away mysteriously in one of his business trips abroad on the 17th September 2003 .

    Though his sudden death was linked or rather suspected to have been masterminded by an uncle of mine who traveled with him at that time. But God knows the truth! My mother died when I was just 6yrs old, and since then my father took me so special.

    Before the death of my father on 17th September 2003 , he called me and informed me that he has the sum of Five million seven hundred thousand united states dollars.USD ($8.700, 000) left in a Security Company here in Abidjan . My father told me that he deposited the money in my name and also gave me all the necessary information and the legal documents regarding to this deposit with the Security Company.

    I am just 22 years old and a university undergraduate and really don't know what to do. now I want a honest God fearing partner overseas who I can transfer this deposit with his assistance and after the transaction I will come and reside permanently in your country till such a time that it will be convenient for me to return back home if I so desire.

    This is because I have suffered a lot of set backs as a result of incessant political crisis here in Cote d'ivoire.The death of my father actually brought sorrow to my life. I also want to invest the fund under your care because I am ignorant of business world.

    I am in a sincere desire of your humble assistance in this regards. Your suggestion and ideas will be highly regarded. Now permit me to ask these few questions:

    1. Can I completely trust you?

    2. What percentage of the total amount will be good for you after the deposit is delivered to your
    Care?
    you can contact me with my private e:mail:
    georgekramo@yahoo.co.jp

    Thanks and God bless you.
    Yours Sincerely
    GEORGE KRAMO

     

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  22.  
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    Trade Show Displays, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 1:10am

    Trade shows are a great place to meet and interact with many people. An attractive trade show display will lead more people to the booth.

     

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