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Sony defeats PSP importer in UK court

Judgement goes against Lik-Sang

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The English High Court has ruled that importing Japanese and North American PlayStation Portable handheld consoles into Europe through unofficial channels is unlawful - the latest outcome of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's (SCEE) battle with Hong Kong-based online retailer Lik-Sang.com.

SCEE initiated legal proceedings against Lik-Sang in August 2005 to prevent the retailer selling PSP to British buyers who'd been forced to wait until September for the console after repeated launch delays.

SCEE filed parallel lawsuits in Hong Kong and London, in both instances alleging Lik-Sang's activity amounted to "an unlawful interference with Sony's economic interests".

Lik-Sang maintains Hong Kong trading laws are on its side because they allow "free trade once an item entered the market for sale". In other words, if Sony sells the PSP in Hong Kong, Lik-Sang is permitted to buy one and then sell it - even if the second buyer lives in the UK.

Or indeed the rest of the European Economic Area, which the 9 October London ruling also covers.

The ruling comes as no surprise given the precedent-based judgements awarded to SCEE against other PSP importers in the run up to the PSP's launch in the UK. In each case, the ruling was founded upon alleged violation of Sony trademarks, a trick that's been used in the past by other manufacturers keen to prevent canny resellers and retailers offering lower prices by purchasing through unofficial channels.

All this bodes ill for anyone planning to offer PS3s to European buyers between the console's launch next month in North America and Japan, and its European debut in March 2007. ®

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