ELECTRONICS GIANT Sony is facing a shortage of Playstation 3 (PS3) consoles in the EU as rival consumer electronics outfit LG managed to win a preliminary injunction against it in a dispute over Blu-ray technology in the PS3.
European customs officers have been ordered to seize shipments of Sony PS3s coming into Europe for at least 10 days following a judgement handed down by the Civil Court of Justice in the Hague. LG could get the injunction extended, meaning Sony would continue to be unable to import PS3s into Europe. LG also has the option of asking for the consoles to be destroyed, though that request is unlikely to be granted by the court.
According to LG, Sony's PS3 console infringes a number of patents relating to the playback of Blu-ray disks and is calling for a similar investigation by the US International Trade Commission.
The chances of Sony being permanently blocked from importing PS3 consoles are remote. If Sony is found to be infringing on LG's Blu-ray patents then the most likely outcome would be Sony paying LG a royalty fee for every PS3 it has sold and on future sales. Such a payment could cost Sony hundreds of millions of pounds.
For Sony the more immediate problem is keeping the shelves stocked with PS3s while it works out an agreement with both the court and LG. The Guardian claims that stockpiles of PS3s could run out within two to three weeks if the ban is not lifted.
Sony has yet to file an appeal against the court's decision, but given that PS3 stocks will soon start to run low, it can be expected to do so. µ
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