back to article Taiwanese firm to sue over armed raid at IFA

A Taiwanese firm is taking legal action over damage to its reputation after an Italian patent troll representing Philips prompted the raid of a Berlin consumer electronics show last month. Teco was among 69 companies targeted by some 200 armed German custom officers during the IFA trade fair in Berlin. The raid was done at the …


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  1. Brian Miller Silver badge

    Are the Germans insane?

    Aren't patent infringements supposed to be settled in a court instead of by a police action? And why can't the Polizei tell the difference between a DVD player and a LCD screen?

  2. David Wilkinson

    stiff punishments for overzelous IP enforcement

    In all these situations there needs to stiff penalties for making wild accusations. It the only way to keep things balanced.

    A company should double check its facts before calling the the attack dogs.

  3. Pyros


    "Teco claims custom agents ignored their explanations that the sets didn't even have DVD functions before hauling the gear away."

    I bet the local German polizei is a bit lacking in funding this quarter, so they're looking for "contaband" to help prop their budgets up some. >)

  4. The Cube

    So who does Sisvel have in their pocket?

    It is quite obvious that this lot have 'bunged an Archer' in the direction of some of these 'law enforcement' bodies. Let's find out who and fire them, or have the incriminating photos of them 'doing a Moseley' printed in the Daily Scumbag....

  5. vincent himpe

    Good !

    Sue their pants off !

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Simple solution

    If the legal environment in Germany seems far to angled towards patent trolls, simply boycott all their trade fairs.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Sounds like an RIAA wet dream . I wounder what the penitential is for Jaywalking ??

  8. Uwe Dippel
    Paris Hilton

    @Brian Miller


    Paris, because she's not worse

  9. Michael Ortmann

    Pavlov ftw!

    Interesting to watch the pavlovian reflexes at work here. Patent/Copyright holder equals bad automatically, multi-billion taiwanese conglomerate Teco is the poor underdog.

    Germans in uniforms naturally equal jackbooted Gestapo Stormtroopers.

    And that mostly from people right out of europes leading police state, good ol blighty, thats rich mates.

  10. JP Sistenich

    Suspect timing

    The timing of the complaints do seem to inflict as much humiliation and disruption as possible, rather than to actually enforce a patent.

    Sue the socks of them!

  11. Hollerith

    say bye-bye to trade fairs

    If I were an Asian manufacturer, I wouldn't bother buying a German phrase-book, as I'd no longer be attending their trade fairs. Sisvel can buy up all the booths for themselves, which sounds as if it were part of the point.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Penalty for jaywalking

    If I remember rightly the potential penalty for jaywalking in Germany is still death... any movement after you've been ordered to "halt" by a deutsche-plod allows them to open fire....

    Those pesky IP infringers have got off way too lightly IMO ;-)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even Simpler Solution

    Boycott the show for a year.

  14. Edwin

    @Brian Miller

    It seems Sisvel cleverly exploits some loophole in Italian (where else?) criminal law that allows prosecution of patent infringement in criminal courts.

    Presumably, suspicion of having committed a criminal act in one European country allows this sort of raid to take place in another.

    Anonymous Coward has a good point though: CEBIT has seen drastic reduction in attendance in recent years. If the Germans want to hang on to their major trade fairs, they'd best curb this sort of silliness.

    I gather Sisvel make the RIAA/MPAA look like a bunch of complacent grannies anyway.

    Note (saving a little Dutch face here) that Sisvel doesn't only administer Philips patents - they seem to administer quite a lot of them. I guess the threat of hard time at Silvio's pleasure is more frightening to infringers than having to pay fines...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    . I wounder what the penitential is for Jaywalking ??

    In comming out of a concert in Munich I was stopped by police at 1am for jaywalking. Asked if I felt it was wrong for the police to control the people I said yes. Got out of jail the next morning.

  16. Narlaquin
    Paris Hilton

    Shocked and Horrified

    ... by the choice of picture. I seem to recall that the Reg photo archives contain a slightly hotter Customs Officer than dear old Hans (pictured). This lady is the Bird on the Beach for all articles of this ilk.

    Please rectify the situation. Have a Paris pic while we wait.

  17. Al

    Pic request....

    Can we have the picture of the gun-toting blonde officerene again, please?

  18. The Badger

    Pavlovian/draconian enforcement

    "Interesting to watch the pavlovian reflexes at work here. Patent/Copyright holder equals bad automatically"

    Nope, you're buying into the whole monolithic intellectual property propaganda. There shouldn't be patents on the mechanisms underlying MP3 because the details are mathematical/algorithmic in nature, plus there are a lot of good economic arguments for disallowing software and user interface patents, anyway. Whether the physical mechanisms underlying DVD technologies should be patentable is another matter, although I'm sure that particular road has a toll booth every fifty centimetres, making it look like Philips and friends want to be paid forever for their efforts.

    Having law enforcement people march in to confiscate stuff, presumably so that their corporate paymasters on this particular job can dismantle it all and take notes (or a bunch of people get a bunch of free gear) seems at the very least hypocritical ("How dare you steal our ideas! Ooh, what does this thing do?") and at worst like state-sponsored industrial espionage. Keep the latter thought in mind as you consider idiot European Commission member thinking on economic competitiveness.

    "multi-billion taiwanese conglomerate Teco is the poor underdog."

    And not multi-billion (Euro) conglomerate Philips and their pals.

    "And that mostly from people right out of europes leading police state, good ol blighty, thats rich mates."

    Ah, the schadenfreude comes out to play. Don't let it distract you from what's going on in your own country.

  19. Ben

    Its the law

    The reason Germany works is that they have rules and stick to them. The Nazi's didn't show us that the law itself is evil, they just made evil laws.

    In this case, I far prefer it that patent laws are being enforced properly - because it exposes those laws for exactly what they are. Think of how many tyranical laws there are now in the UK. They are lurking just below the surface, away from the public conciousness, because (as yet) they are only being used to target relatively unpopular and little known figures/groups.

    With any luck, the result of this will not only be a political backlash, but for the firms involved, some hefty payouts.

  20. Sluggy

    Who should it stick to

    Don't forget that if Philips didn't employ them, this would not happen...

  21. Lukin Brewer


    I thought there was a historical allusion I wasn't quite picking up.

    In Germany, prior to the trashing of Jewish shops that took place during Kristallnacht, the SA (brownshirts) used to picket them during business hours, intimidating potential customers.

    Well, that's what this reminded me of.

  22. Michael Ortmann
    Black Helicopters

    @ The Badger

    >>Nope, you're buying into the whole monolithic intellectual property propaganda. (snip).<<

    Nope, but without any real info about what the allegedly infringed patents are about en detail, and I didn't see that info so far, I will refrain from judgment on their validity, one way or the other.

    My observation, which so far has not been disproved, was that here, like on most tech sites, there is a reflex to condemn anyone claiming intellectual property violations to patent-troll-hell (which circle is that in anyway?) unless he is proven innocent by some Saint of info-socialism.

    As a matter of fact I am myself opposed to most purely intellectual patents, but that's a different story.

    >>And not multi-billion (Euro) conglomerate Philips and their pals.<<

    Doesn't matter. My point is that this is no little bullied start up, but a massive corp that could very well be bigger then Phillips and Pals and certainly has enough lawyers and legal consultants to have a) Prevented this whole stunt and b) come out of all this only slightly bruised. They'll certainly won't get much pity out of me.

    >>Ah, the schadenfreude comes out to play. Don't let it distract you from what's going on in your own country.<<

    Anything happening in Greece I didn't notice? Or do you mean the government stepping up checks of school buses? Oh yeah, fascism rears it's ugly head! ;-)

  23. Nick Kew
    Black Helicopters

    So where's safe?

    This appears to show serious insanity in Germany.

    But an unpleasant incident at a trade show is put into perspective when you compare what happened to Dmitry Sklyarov! Or when you consider the pirates who successfully extorted a large fortune out of RIM with a blackmailing injunction against selling any blackberries in what was naturally their biggest market!

    So where is safe to do business in the West? Norway has a somewhat confidence-inspiring track record, and the Netherlands still seems to understand the concept of Free Speech. Anywhere else?

  24. /\/\j17

    Tit For Tat?

    Wonder if Philips are planning on attending any trade shows in Taipei this year as I forsee some IP alligations triggering seasure of their whole stand.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Why does it make me think of this?

    Banksy's Monkey Graffiti. Rather Apt, no?

  26. Jeffrey Nonken

    Missing the point

    Some (not all) of your are missing the point. It's not a matter of who is violating whose patents, or a matter of criminalizing patent infringement, and so on. This isn't about underdogs and bleeding hearts.

    In the USA we have something called "Due Process." Well, we HAD something called Due Process, and then Bush got elected... OK, don't get me started.

    But my point is that this is a violation of the concept of due process. The companies in the show were being punished without proof. In fact, without evidence. If Philips wants to take legal action against them, it needs to take them to court, not use bullying tactics.

    If I can pay the government enough money to get them to back me, I can beat up whomever I please. That doesn't make me right. It doesn't make them right either, but beating them up isn't the way to settle it.

    I agree: the best action overall is to simply stop showing up at German conferences. Vote with your feet.

    But I know who I'm rooting for, and it ain't the bully.

  27. Hud Dunlap

    @Jeffrey Nonken

    Quote: "In the USA we have something called "Due Process." Well, we HAD something called Due Process, and then Bush got elected... OK, don't get me started."

    Do a little more research. Clinton-Gore started a lot of the crap that Bush is doing but they tried to sneak it under the radar by doing it administratively. Do a search for "Know your Customer" for a start. And gun control laws for a second. Read the second amendment for a perfect example of a very well written and clear sentence. A well regulated Militia is something that did not exist in New Orleans because the Democrats had taken away law abiding citizen's guns.

    I do agree that this was an abuse of power. But remember the judges said it wasn't.

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