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Sony UK denies grey PSP confiscation claims

'Absolutely not going after consumers'

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Sony's European PlayStation division, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) has denied it has any plans to grab PlayStation Portables from UK punters who bought their consoles from unofficial importers.

"We're absolutely not going after consumers - that's not our objective at all," an SCEE spokesman said yesterday, according to a GamesIndustry.biz report.

"We can assure people who bought consoles on the grey market that we're not going to be going after them."

Allegations that it might be pursuing purchasers were made by UK newspaper The Guardian yesterday. The paper said it had seen a copy of SCEE's legal challenged to PSP importers. In it, Sony demanded importers hand over details of their customers.

Cue Orwellian images of Sony Paycops kicking on doors, beating up consumers who've had the cheek not to be willing to wait until September for a PSP, and carrying away their consoles.

An unlikely scenario maybe, but the possibility remains that SCEE would maintain a list of such buyers - assuming it wins its High Court action against the importers, due to commence on Monday - to prevent them from taking advantage of the benefits granted to buyers of officially sourced product, such as technical support. We understand that it has no direct legal recourse against such customers.

SCEE told GamesIndustry.biz that the suggestive clause in its writ against the importers was standard part of all such lawsuits, and would be used to help determine the level of damages the company claims to have suffered from the unauthorised, or 'grey', imports.

SCEE originally planned to ship the PSP into Europe by the end of March, around the time of the handheld's US launch. However, put back the release, a number of times, to 1 September. This created an opportunity for enterprising firms and individuals to buy PSPs in the US and resell them over here. US retailers and distributors are not permitted to sell PSPs to overseas customers - on penalty, presumably, of losing their ability to sell the device to locals.

But there's nothing to stop anyone buying a PSP from a US store and bringing it here to sell, or simply putting the unopened package up for grabs on eBay. Indeed, SCEE has gone as far as to send requests to individuals that they stop offering PSPs on European branches of the online auction site. ®

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