German authorities raid at high tech fair

With an impressive force of 220 inspectors, German custom authorities raided several companies in the Berlin on Saturday, seizing flat-screen televisions and other electronics from stands at IFA, the world’s largest consumer electronics fair.

A German court had ruled late on Thursday that several east Asian and European firms were marketing unlicensed patented technology at IFA and authorized 69 raids, a spokesman for Berlin’s customs investigation office said. Hyandai IT Corp was among the raided companies. Uniformed customs police could be witnessed removing Hyundai’s flat-screen televisions in front of the public and trade visitors, leaving an empty stand with wires hanging from it. According to the spokesperson around 170 televisions, 140 MP3 music players, 21 mobile phones and 57 DVD recorders had been seized at IFA so far.

The theft of trade secrets by foreign companies is a sensitive topic in Germany, where the economy depends on a research-intensive export sector.

Similar but smaller raids have taken place at other German technology fairs such as Hanover’s Cebit in recent years.

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