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UK PSP importer dodges sales ban... for now

And Lumines cracked... sort of

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UK PlayStation Portable importer Nuplayer won a small victory over Sony on Monday when the Japanese giant failed to secure an injunction banning the company from selling PSPs sourced from overseas.

However, the High Court judge considering Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's contention that Nuplayer has infringed its trademarks simply said he needs more time to ponder the evidence, according to a GamesIndustry.biz report.

Since delaying the European release of the PSP to September, Sony has seen a number of companies begin to sell the handheld console to PSP-hungry buyers. While it can't prevent them from doing so directly, it has used the allegation of trademark infringement to seek a ban on the imports.

Sony's argument runs thus: in order to sell the console, importers need to say what it is. That means naming it, and since we, Sony, own the trademark, and they, the importers, don't have permission to use said, they are ipso facto infringers.

Levi-Strauss used the same argument to successfully prevent UK retailer Tesco from importing and selling its jeans more cheaply than its official sales partners were doing so.

SCEE last week won an interim injunction against PSP importer ElectricBirdLand using that argument. ElectricBirdLand, run by Dan Morelle, has 28 days to prepare a defence and will be back in court on 18 July.

Nuplayer said in its defence this week that not only had it offered to remove all Sony trademarks from its web site, and from the boxes it ships out. Sony said that amounted to a defacement of its products. Nuplayer maintains that this way, it doesn't use any Sony trademark - the Sony and PSP names and logos do not appear until the customer opens the box, by which time the product is the property of the buyer not the seller.

The judge is expected to announce his verdict in court on Friday or Monday.

Separately, hackers are claiming to have figured out how to run at least one PSP game from a MemoryStick fitted into the console without the need for the original game disc to be present.

The move patches the MemoryStick copy of the game Lumines, allowing a third-party launcher code to activate the program. Potentially, it paves the way for games to be downloaded from the Net, copied onto a MemoryStick then played on the PSP.

Standing in the way of that process is that it's fiddly, there's no sound, and Sony is planning to ensure future games require users to update their consoles with new firmware that blocks the technique used to make the patch work. ®

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