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March 6, 2008

Patent Looting

A mob of more than 180 German police and customs officials goose-stepped into Europe's largest gadget uber-fair, and hauled off 68 cartons of booty alleged to be patent infringing. While "innocent until proven guilty" is the lip service, guilty until proven innocent is the reality worldwide; the raid was instigated by "criminal complaints by the holders of patent rights in the run-up to CeBit."

China-based Meizu Technology's booth was shuttered, their entire stock confiscated. Meizu had been sporting a IPod-ish MP3 player, a smartphone, and other techno-goodies. One Hanover cop was overheard to marvel "nice" while pocketing a crafty criminal trinket.

Italy-based Sisvel had cell phones, televisions and satellite navigation systems snatched under the rubric of patent infringement for audio compression software.

Most companies paid bond and were released. One prosecutor characterized most as cooperative in the little Spanish Inquisition foreplay.

U.S. police don't enjoy such luxury, as patent infringement is a civil offense. The exception is an import ban upon an order from the International Trade Commission, which allows U.S. customs agents to seize goods.

Worldwide, police are the most frequent criminals, daily committing with impunity a wide variety of crimes, from traffic misdemeanors to violent felonies, all under the guise of law enforcement.

Posted by Patent Hawk at March 6, 2008 9:04 PM | International


"Worldwide, police are the most frequent criminals, daily committing with impunity a wide variety of crimes, from traffic misdemeanors to violent felonies, all under the guise of law enforcement."

Amen, brother. Last year in Vancouver, BC the pigs executed one dude on his knees in the middle of a busy street and they fatally tazed and beat a poor, unarmed immigrant from Poland in the airport after he'd spent 13 hours waiting to be processed.

It's serious.

Posted by: DudeAbides at March 7, 2008 8:56 AM

Got too many traffic violation tickets, patent hawk ?

Well, next time try to drive carefully and never exceed speed limit by more than 10mph

Too bad our US police can't arrest some infringing goodies at a trade show
Maybe this would actually help in brigning the current system back to sanity
Even better if police could arrest some pig-headed CEOs and keep them in jail for couple weeks
Trust me, the willful patent infringement in US would be drastically reduced, if not eliminated

Posted by: angry dude at March 7, 2008 10:28 AM

And they want to take our guns away! [sorry, I couldn't resist saying that]

Posted by: gunpatentdude at March 7, 2008 10:48 AM

To angry dude:

I don't own a car; use Zipcar; and seldom drive. Don't drive much over the speed limit; not in a hurry. Have not had any sort of traffic ticket for years.

Posted by: Patent Hawk at March 7, 2008 11:09 AM

F-ing krauts...

Posted by: Xenophobe at March 8, 2008 12:04 PM

Well Hawk, are you sure they "goose-stepped"? And do you know whether the owners of the IP rights had first to give an undertaking in damages before they got the cartons of counterfeits seized. And at least it was only inaminate cartons of goods that were rendered extraordinarily. And is it really much different from a bog standard interlocutory injunction, at least in its effect? And what if the rights owner had been a good ol' long-suffereing US company and the Trade Fair had been in China. Would the police still be the villains of the piece?

Posted by: MaxDrei at March 9, 2008 1:18 AM

Hi MaxDrei:

Thanks for reading, and commenting. Nice to hear from you again.

I knew when I wrote “goose-stepping” that someone was going to call it out.

Are you suggesting that German police 'saunter' or 'amble' rather than goose-step when performing a raid? How unTeutonic. Ever notice how people seldom 'speak' in my entries, instead 'snorting' and 'tooting' and 'whining'? It's a little writing crafty thingy called poetic license. Literal mindedness is a dead-end, entertainment value-wise.

Whenever I do a story such as this, I read all the news reports available, hoping some factual crumbs fall to the floor from the insipid mainstream press. As you stated, the crucial question in this story is whether the alleged infringers had it coming. Using this little writing crafty thingy call quotation marks, to indicate someone else spat/squeaked/snarled, I posited: “criminal complaints by the holders of patent rights.” “Criminal complaints” smacks the language processing portion of my cerebral cortex as allegation, not conviction. But maybe I’m just being literal minded; how droll.

Posted by: Patent Hawk at March 9, 2008 12:39 PM

Not sure what that was all about, Hawk, but nice of you to welcome my comment. There's been a lot of debate in Europe recently, whether patent infringement can ever be a criminal offence. It has been so for decades, in the German patent statute, but the authorities have hardly ever invoked the criminal provisions. Maybe the debate at pan-European level has emboldened them.

Posted by: MaxDrei at March 9, 2008 1:01 PM