October 25, 2006 5:45 AM PDT
Sony suits sink game retailer
Sony's computer entertainment division, which sued Lik-Sang for copyright infringement in 2002, more recently hauled Lik-Sang to court a second time. Its complaint claimed that Lik-Sang had infringed Sony trademarks, copyrights and registered design rights by selling Japanese PlayStation Portable consoles to European customers. Lik-Sang did not send legal representatives to the London court hearing on the matter, and the judge found in favor of Sony.
Sony will move to block any other retailers involved in similar "gray importing" activities, the company said in a statement. Sony added that its actions protected European consumers "from being sold hardware that does not conform to strict European Union or U.K. consumer safety standards."
Lik-Sang responded by rebuffing Sony's safety claims. The retailer said that all PSPs it sold contained genuine Sony 100V-240V AC adapters to deal with power-supply requirements in Europe, and that the handhelds conformed to all European Union and U.K. consumer safety regulations.
Pascal Clarysse, former marketing manager for Lik-Sang, said that the company made the decision to close because the court victory set precedent for further cases against it.
"Today is Sony Europe's victory about the PSP; tomorrow is Sony Europe's ongoing pressure about PlayStation 3," Clarysse said. "With this precedent set, next week could already be the stage for complaints from Sony America about the same thing, or from other console manufacturers about other consoles to other regions, or even from any publisher about any specific software title."
Effective immediately, Lik-Sang will not accept new orders and will cancel and refund all existing orders. It added that it would be doing its best to work with banks and PayPal to refund all store credits held by the company and handle pending returns and repairs. Any attempt to place orders on the site redirects visitors to the company's official statement of closure. Lik-Sang also claimed that Sony Computer Entertainment Europe executives had purchased imported PSP goods from Lik-Sang.
"Sony Europe's very own top directors repeatedly got their Sony PSP hard or software imports in nicely packaged Lik-Sang parcels with free Lik-Sang mugs or Lik-Sang badge holders, starting just two days after Japan's official release, as early as Dec. 14, 2004," which was more than nine months before Sony's legal action, Clarysee said.
Clarysse said the blame for Lik-Sang's closure rests squarely on Sony's shoulders. "Blame it on Sony. That's the latest dark spot in their shameful track record as gaming industry leader. The 'empire' finally won," Clarysse said. A "few dominating retailers from the U.K. probably will rejoice (in) the news, but everybody else in the gaming world lost something today."
GameSpot asked Sony to respond to the accusations, but the company had made no comment as of press time. However, in a statement given to British game-industry magazine MCV, the company took a defiant tone.
"We have been awarded substantial costs against Lik-Sang which have not been paid," Sony said in the statement. "We would therefore strongly deny that our actions have had anything to do with this Web site closing (we assume the legal entity is still trading) and would suggest that this release is sour grapes on behalf of Lik-Sang which is aimed to belittle Sony Computer Entertainment and the British judicial system that ruled against them."
Emma Boyes of GamesSpot UK reported from London.
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