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 @ 3:44pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    wow. are you really so blinded by the potential clients you'll get from cases like this that you can not see the far-reaching implications that something like this can have?

    seriously, someone not allowed to display stuff due to patent infringement? that is like having a gaming accessory that I made for myself (and that I'm not selling) being confiscated because someone things I infringed on their rights. currently there is nothing anyone can do if you show others how to make something that is patent or make something that is for personal use.

    but if cases like this were to become more wide spread, companies could seize devices on a whim and effectively destroy the first sale doctrine. that Iphone you unlocked or ipod you made to work with linux? yeah, violation of patents, they get seized. selling your old car? oops the car makers hold a patent on that, you lose the car.

    in no time we'll have laws that specifically state what you are and are not allowed to do with something you purchase (oops, I'm sorry, that blender isn't allowed to make smoothies, you have to buy the deluxe version to do that. or that computer is only allowed to have windows on it, if you want Linux you have to buy this one.) sure it seems unreasonable now, but just give it a few years, we already have the EULAs they enforce as copyright infringement...

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