CEBIT: German customs and police scour venue for patent dodgers

Customs and police officers confiscated products from the stand of at least one exhibitor at Germany's Cebit fair this week on suspicion that the devices infringed on MPEG audio patents, a patent licensing agency said.

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Customs and police officers confiscated products from the stand of at least one exhibitor at Germany's Cebit fair this week on suspicion that the devices infringed on MPEG audio patents, a patent licensing agency said.

"It's the second time we are at Cebit and last year we already had some actions regarding infringing products," said Thomas Hartmann, senior manager at Societa Italiana per lo Sviluppo dell'Elettronica (Sisvel), told the IDG News Service. The company analyses the exhibitor list of Cebit and other trade fairs before it begins to identify exhibitors that might have products that are infringing on MPEG audio patents, he said.

"So normally the day before the fair we run through all the halls, see what products are on display and on the first morning when the fair starts we do the same thing again so if there are obviously products which are unlicensed then we possibly have to file a criminal complaint," said Hartmann.

The company licenses a portfolio of patents used in MPEG1 and MPEG2 audio. This typically includes MP3 players, MPEG2-complaint set-top boxes, DVB satellite receivers, PDAs and computer sound boards.

Sisvel wouldn't name the companies raided but Hartmann said, “I have a list of targets and I know the list is not fulfilled yet.”

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