PS3 units to be seized by EU customs in patent dispute

Customs officers throughout Europe have been told to seize new imports of Playstation 3 consoles. The Civil Court of Justice in Hague has ordered all new PS3s imported into Europe to be confiscated for at least 10 days. It follows consumer electronics manufacturer LG winning a preliminary injunction against Sony as part of a patent dispute concerning Blu-Ray technology.

LG is pushing for a cut of each Playstation 3 sold. They allege the device infringes on several of LG's patents. Sony have thus far refused to comment on the matter, saying they will not discuss ongoing legal affairs. The two companies are bitter rivals in the consumer electronics market and have no less than seven separate ongoing patent disputes.

The move is unlikely to affect the supply chain to stores in Europe too much, as officials at the main import points for Europe in the Netherlands have advised that there are significant PS3 stockpiles in warehouses. Furthermore, most large European retailers typically have around 3 weeks supply of stock in their supply chains. If, however, the injunction was to be made permanent, this could cause serious headaches for Sony. This does not seem likely given the amount of time that has passed since the Playstation 3 has been on the market. The move by LG is widely seen as a leveraged tactic to put pressure on Sony to settle and give them a cut of the Playstation pie.

Sony, however, is not very likely to be accommodating given that such a settlement would cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation against past and future sales of the console.

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