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.
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Filed Under: cebit, germany, patents, tradeshow

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  1. identicon
    Bill S, 11 Mar 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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