More Trade Show Booths Raided By Customs Over Patents

from the this-makes-no-sense dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about how a patent holding firm, by the name Sisvel, had German customs officials raid the trade show booths of certain CeBit exhibitors, having all their goods confiscated. At the time, someone in the comments noted that this is a recurring theme in Germany, as certain patent hoarders "target trade show exhibitors and demand what amounts to protection money to avoid being raided by the police in the middle of the show." The companies just complain to customs, and get officials to raid the trade show booths in the middle of the show, even if the patents are bogus or don't even apply to the goods on display. It seems like a huge protection racket.

And, of course, it's happened again. Slashdot points us to the news that the booths of 69 companies at a tech trade show were raided by customs officials last week.

What's still not clear is how this possibly could make sense? While German patent law apparently allows this, it's hard to fathom why. Simply displaying a product, even if it infringes on someone's patent, hardly seems like a reason to send in customs officials to confiscate the device. I can maybe understand suing -- and even possibly suing for an injunction against selling the product -- but getting customs to completely confiscate the products and shut down the trade show booth simply doesn't make any sense, and clearly opens up the system to widespread abuse.

Filed Under: customs, germany, patents, trade shows
Companies: sisvel

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Sep 2008 @ 2:40pm

    Re: Re:

    No...not really, BUT only so long as there is credible evidence that a patent is/has being/been infringed. A mere "Gee, I think it is" doesn't hack it.

    It is worthwhile to note, however, that in many such instances patentees have already had access to the allegedly infringing goods and are not proceeding on a "Gee, I think..." basis. I would advise any client to perform a thorough due diligence before embarking on such a course of action, and would expect other counsel would do the same. At the same time I would also advise them to think long and hard about initiating such an activity in a public forum. Matters like these are best handled via private communications. Ever try and work out a settlement with a really ticked off alleged infringer who has just been "outed" in a quite embarrassing manner?

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