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发布时间:2019-03-07 04:10:02来源:未知点击:

By Barry Fox Motorola has devised a way to stop televisions, cell phones and VCRs working if they have been bought on the “grey” market. The technique allows manufacturers to shut down unofficially imported electronic goods. But European free-trade rules may outlaw the system. Manufacturers often set different prices for their goods in different countries, but unofficial importers can undercut these prices. Now Motorola’s European research laboratory has found a way to thwart these grey imports by fitting equipment with a device that secretly checks where it is. The plan is to embed chips into TVs and cellphones that are either linked to the network of Global Positioning System satellites or are programmed to identify the signal transmitted by national broadcasters. If the chip detects that it is somewhere outside a pre-programmed region, then the equipment will stop working and be “rendered useless”, says the company’s patent. “It is often desirable to control the marketing or use of products differently in different areas,” continues Motorola’s patent, but the company would not comment on the scheme. However, European Union laws encourage free trade between member states. “We would certainly investigate the Motorola scheme if there were a complaint or we thought it were anti-competitive,” Britain’s Office of Fair Trading told New Scientist. Last week the OFT began investigating record companies it suspects of blocking parallel imports of cheaper CDs from other EU states. Consumers and some importers also oppose Motorola’s scheme. “We would absolutely resist anything that stood in the way of giving shoppers the best value through legitimate and legal purchasing,” says Colette Blanchfield of the British supermarket chain Asda. Jenny Driscoll of Britain’s Consumers’ Association, which campaigns for parallel imports on everything from cars to toys, says: