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 @ 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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