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An intrepid Register Hardware hack was this morning stopped from looking around MSI's stand at the consumer electronics show IFA, in Berlin. The uniformed gents he mistook for overly officious security guards were in fact German Customs officers investigating claims of patent infringement. MSI security MSI security Nothing to …

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Who Cares ?

"clearly you have never dealt with those b*****ds at the Inland Revenue"

It no longer exists.

Inland revenue has been replaced by "Her Majesties Revenue and Customs"

Noting that visits from the tax and/or vat people were feared across the length and breadth of England and Wales (Scottish people just laugh at them) the .gov decided to combine the worst of the best into a single entity of terror. HMRC.

In any case: "IF YOU HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR"

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Black Helicopters

@andreas koch

Check the grip on the gent's firearm; it's clearly a Glock (probably a G-17 from the length of the holster) as neither Sig or H-K use grips with "finger" spaces quite like that.

Must dash, they've come to get me as I clearly have Knowledge Of Use To Terrorists (I can tell what a real gun looks like with more accuracy than the average Politician)

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Unhappy

@AC

Funny that, every time I see IR, I think IRA

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Anonymous Coward

clearly you have never delt with those b*****ds at the Inland Revenue.

Hmm lets compare your tax man to ours . If Bin Lauded owed baxck taxes the IRS would found him in 48 hours.

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HMRC - Hired Monkey Readies Consequences.

In any case: "IF YOU HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR"

So I can get a look at the terrorist's cook book with no recriminations?

HMRC? Hidden market research cashiers? Her Majesty's recycled currency? Hidden mattresses re covered?

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Steal an advantage

Go to trade shows, steal competitors soon to be released products. Claim patent infringement (even though there's probably prior art), steal all their good ideas (early demonstration and development products may be easier to copy as they can have debug information in the code or on the PCB).

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Stop going to CeBIT

Trade show is expensive. The choice of timing is a shame. Even if nothing is found, the whole show will be over by then. It's a lost for everyone. Certainly, customers will think twice to go to CeBIT again.

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Coat

Anagrams

While we're on the subject, the lads with guns have all got "ZOLL" written on their backs, "ZOLL" is an anagram of "LOLZ", so this is clearly a practical joke. MSI and such obviously lack a sense of humour.

The guns aren't Glocks, they're Glugs - a well-known glockalike water pistol.

Yup, the one with the whoopee cushion and can of shaving foam in the pockets please.

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Anonymous Coward

Why not?

Why not expediate the whole process somewhat and just let the companies shoot directly at one another? People would be a whole lot less inclined to patent troll if they thought intel para-legals were going to break down their doors and murder them.

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Paris Hilton

Use this to our advantage

and produce a certificate saying the bible has been patented and storm the scientology office.

Paris as she knows about domination

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@AC

Close but no cigar ;) It is a H&K P7 Pistol. I don't think it's used outside of germany - it was developed specifically for their Police Force. It does look very similar to a Glock 17 though, but the finger indentations are wrong, as is the shape of the grip.

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Time limit?

Did Sisvel invent these patent ideas? Do they actually manufacture anything? If not, then they should lsoe all rights to their patents within (say) 2 years. The ideas become public domain.

Other companies (such as ARM) who do invent and then license their tech still need to be protected somehow (maybe the fact they need to create the prototype would count as "manufacture"), but there has to be a way to stamp out the other parasites.

They are stifling free trade and innovation. Isn't that what the EU bleats on about protecting?

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@ El'Reg

"Darkies" and "Duskies"

Does anyone moderate this? I'm all for a giggle on the comments boards but not racist remarks, even if they are a poor attempt at humour.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: @ El'Reg

I moderate this. When I'm not moderating it, others are, but I'd like to think we all have an understanding of the usage of words in a satirical manner, often to highlight the prejudices of others rather than express their own.

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Sam

Bang on

@ Sarah; Absolutely correct.

@ Neil; It really happened, it was at Frankfurt am Main some years ago...all the non whites were filtered into one customs channel. I get stared at by customs people as well these days, I've got black hair, a beard and my skin is slightly swarthy.

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Can't say this is doing the Deutsche Messe any favours...

...I would imagine that after this sort of thing, manufacturers will start to boycott German trade shows, and we will all need to fly to Taiwan to see new technology, rather than have manufacturers risk a presentation being undermined by a spiteful competitor, and heavy-handed firearm-wielding Zollamt officers.

You can't blame the manufacturers if they decide on this course of action - Germany getting its police involved is the wrong thing to do if you are trying to encourage companies to show off their technology. Everyone knows now, that all a competitor has to do is cry "Patent violation" (these days, it's a bit like crying "Rape!"), and that company has zero presence at a trade show they've paid lots of readies to attend - even if, in the end, they turn out to be 100% innocent.

If I were the Germans, I'd be thinking very seriously about how this sort of thing is going to affect them in the near future. Germany is a magnet for several types of trade shows (not just CeBIT in Hannover) - and having vendors decide to present their new products elsewhere will hurt Germany greatly - there will be a lot of lost revenue, especially in hotel, restaurant and transportation trades.

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Anonymous Coward

US patents

Hmm, i would be interested to find out which patents were said to have been infringed, and in what way. AFAIK exhibiting products is not infringement, unless you're selling them off the stand then it doesn't matter what's in them. therefore the (nice-looking) goons should not seize anything other than boxed product.

another matter is the territory of the patent, the "noddy" american system routinely issues patents for devices that would be ruled "obvious" or "prior art" in the EU, and products based on these obvious ideas may not be legal for sale in the US, but should be exhibitable in the EU.

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Anonymous Coward

Move the show to another country

This show should be moved to another country which doesn't pander to the needs of some patent hungry company..

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Another power is gained by the Minister

If I were the organiser or promoter for for IFA and - especially - for CeBit, I'd be suing Sisvel and ZollAmt for every last penny. Because it would *be* my last penny: barring some serious high-profile apology and a statement of policy from the Chancellor's office, this latest raid on a major tech trade fair is probably the end of the line for CeBit.

At the very least, CeBit's no longer permitted to be a cutting-edge technology showcase with the movers and the shakers in attendance: I doubt that any such thing will ever be hosted in Germany again.

Trouble is, German law (and English law, for that matter) offers very little scope for compensation for losses, direct and indirect, incurred when your property is seized as part of a Police or Customs investigation. And they've only got to find one or two *arguable* patent violations in order to demonstrate that the search and seizure was 'reasonable'.

I could be wrong - it should be noted that I am not a lawyer and that you would be wise to seek advice from a qualified legal practitioner in your own jurisdiction - but it looks like trade shows and exhibitions cannot be protected against this kind of thing at all. Particularly in a federal nation-state: CeBit and IFA's organisers are locally influential, and would have an effective veto over such an action by local police, but *this* act of sabotage reflects political lobbying at the level of national policy, and the skilful cultivation of public officials at Federal level.

Or so a cynic might think. ZollAmt officials and the judicial office-holders who issued the warrants are, of course, dedicated and impartial professionals acting to uphold the law by their own best judgement. They gave - and will continue to give - the proper weight, no more and no less, to the advice of trustworthy experts in industry. I am certain, and I am sure that you will all take care to agree with me *explicitly* in your comments, that they did not give undue weight to the advice or information of any one particular company or special-interest group in this or any other case. I am equally certain that no individual or company influenced them unduly, that there is absolutely no question whatsoever that any individual or company sought to do so improperly, and I have every confidence that your published comments will be entirely in agreement with me on this particular point.

Organisers of similar events in the USA would be well advised to take note: there are lobbyists in Washington and legal advisors with a presence in all the competent courts in the individual states, who will maintain a watching brief for this kind of thing: but they are expensive, far beyond the reach of all but the largest companies. You have, at least, the consolation of knowing that the TSA and Homeland Security have shown themselves to be commercially-impartial in their overbearing offensive and occasionally- thuggish assaults on commerce, technology and the free exchange of ideas. Patent trolls backed up by federal marshals might be another matter. And yes, it *is* a federal matter if the infringement crosses state lines, or the trolls get a ruling that one or more of the (alleged) infringements involves a 'dual-use' technology with armaments and aerospace applications.

Who else will take note?

Far Eastern companies will view this whole affair with alarm: for some, it will have a familiar ring, a sense that the Minister, the Party Secretary and Chief of Police should be consulted advised and assisted in the usual way... They will also see our talk of 'impartial' and 'incorruptible' public administration as the sham it has clearly (in their eyes) been shown to be. And, as they haven't established a reliable way of getting people un-arrested over here, they will only ever send expendable junior employees out to exhibitions and trade fairs in Europe. Worse, there is absolutely nothing, bar common sense, to stop them 'advising' their own officials that *our* stands on trade fairs in Taiwan, Japan, Korea and - especially - China are now fair game.

You might want to take note of this, too: try telling a customs official or a district court that the economically-dominant Work Unit, Chaebol or Zaibatsu that owns everything and everyone in the host city isn't the victim of a patent infringement. Or that they shouldn't lock you up forever, declare all forty containers of your products contraband and extinguish your copyrights and patents - locally, at least - unless you pay the fines in full right now.

Closer to home, it would be nice to think that the proprietors of Kensington Olympia, the NEC and EdExcel would take note, too: hosting CeBit in the UK would be a major commercial coup. Trouble is, we've got patent trolls in the UK, too: technology fairs are now subject to an effective veto-by-decree as no-one will commit the money without an explicit and *public* ministerial guarantee that the show will be permitted to open and operate without being raided.

At least they don't take bribes here... But ministers and senior civil servants can be briefed, and frequently are, by people whose interests do do not correspond at all closely with the common good, and their ignorance of the consequences of their actions occasionally frightens me. And, as I've hinted in the title, we've taken the second big step in Rule by Fiat: not only does the minister have the power to forbid an assembly, he must now be petitioned in advance for an assurance that his minions won't shut it down after all the money's been committed.

So far, this is hypothetical: raids on trade shows are only happening in Germany... Aren't they?

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Joke

@ Iain's 'Acthung!' comment

"If you haff done notting wrong, you haff notting to fear."

I find that very offensive, your stereotype is all wrong. My wife is German.

If you're going to take the piss it goes like this...

"If you haff done nussing wrong, you haff nussing to fear. Ja?"

(and yes my tongue is wedged in my cheek at the expense of my wife!)

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Coat

Actually...

Think they're just there to score free tat at the booth owner's expense, using "copyright infringement" as a convienent excuse?

Mine's the one with the SPIE's Defense & Security Synopsium exhibit pass on the security officer's jacket...

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trade show raid

While German patent law apparently allows this, it's hard to fathom why.

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