Thousands of Playstation 3 consoles seized following bitter legal dispute between Sony and LG

Shipments of Sony Playstation 3s have been stockpiled in Dutch warehouses after an import ban won by rival LG.

The Korean electronics manufacturer has accused Sony of infringing use of its Blu-Ray technology, arguing that the games consoles infringe on patents relating to disc playback.

The 10 day injunction granted by a court in the Hague has led to tens of thousands of consoles languishing in warehouses in the Netherlands while Sony desperately seeks to get the ban lifted. It is thought that if the injunction continues the popular games console could disappear from shops in the UK and Europe within two to three weeks when retail stocks run out.

The litigation marks the latest spat between the companies who are currently locked in battle over seven other patents, which has led to Sony seeking to block shipments of LG smartphones to the United States.

Dai Davis, an intellectual property lawyer at Brooke North solicitors, told E&T: “Once you start going down the route of seizing goods or taking out injunctions, the pressure these companies are under to settle the disputes will be immense. This particular bit of litigation could be a means to put pressure on Sony to settle the other cases favourably.

“It is quite a common tactic – one of the defence tactics I might use if someone was suing my client in an intellectual property infringement case would be to see if I can attack them on something completely unrelated.

“Nobody wants litigation, but a company would want to settle from a position of strength rather than weakness. Here the position of strength is as many bits of mud LG can throw at Sony – the more that sticks the better off they are for it.”

Davis added that another reason for continuing litigation in an intellectual property dispute could be to force the rival company to devoting time and resources to fighting the case, ensuring they “take their eyes off the ball”.

Since the launch of the Sony Playstation 3 in March 2007 the Japanese company has sold more than three million consoles. If it is found to have infringed LG’s patented technology it could be forced to pay compensation to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds.

A spokesman for Sony Playstation said the company was investigating the situation but was unable to comment further.

LG did not respond to E&T’s request for a comment.

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