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Germany

Customs Agents Swarm Berlin Electronics Trade Fair

220 German customs agents swarmed through the IFA consumer-electronics fair, hunting for non-payers of royalties, shortly after the expo opened Friday in the German capital of Berlin.

A wall of flat-screens at the IFA

Agents raided about 50 booths at the IFA

German customs agents swarmed through the IFA consumer-electronics fair shortly after it opened in Berlin on Friday. They were hunting for people shirking royalty payments.

Asian manufacturers of electronic gadgets appeared to be major targets of the raids, which were led by Berlin prosecutors and prompted by complaints from international corporations about alleged illegal copying on Friday, Aug. 29.

There were similar raids at the CeBIT electronics fair in the German city of Hanover in March. Many of the allegations involve patented software in the digital devices. The patent owners are entitled to royalty fees every time the software is used.

A total of 220 agents had been deployed to raid about 50 booths at IFA and would continue their work until Friday evening, said Norbert Scheithauer, a spokesman for the German customs service.

European firms also eyed

He denied there was any focus on Asian companies, saying European manufacturers were being raided too.

The Taiwan Image Hall, where award-winning Taiwanese designs were shown, was a target, according to a report in the online version of the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Agents brought cartons and took away television sets, receivers for terrestrial digital video broadcasting (DVB-T) and MP3 players.

Elements of decoding software for both DVB-T and MP3 are protected under German law.

DW.DE