Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) has begun legal proceedings against Hong-Kong's Lik-Sang, the gaming hardware exporter said today.
SCEE's move is specifically intended to prevent Lik-Sang from selling PlayStation Portable handheld consoles to European buyers unable to wait for the PSP's formal launch on 1 September.
Lik-Sang denounced the lawsuit, filed with the Hong Kong High Court, as a "cynical attempt to disrupt the successful online business... gain total market control, and garner publicity".
SCEE, on the other hand, said: "Lik-Sang's [exports] are an unlawful interference with Sony's economic interests."
The exporter is accused of violating SCEE's trademarks, and of infringing SCEE's copyrights by posting a copy of the PSP manual on its website. Sony warned Lik-Sang on 14 June it would begin legal proceedings if the manual was not removed, along with links to Sony's own website. Lik-Sang maintains it immediately complied with that request.
Lik-Sang vowed to fight the case, claiming it has Hong Kong trade regulations on its side. They, it said, "allows free trade once an item entered the market for sale". In other words, what we do with a PSP once we've bought it is up to us - and that includes selling it on to consumers in the UK and elsewhere.
SCEE's action follows similar battles in the English High Court fought with a number of UK-based PSP importers. Some of those cases have thus far gone Sony's way, after it successfully persuaded the court that the grey importers' efforts to advertise their wares amounted to infringement of Sony's trademarks. Importers such as ElectricBirdLand and Nuplayer are the subject of preliminary injunctions banning the sale of PSPs.
Lik-Sang was sued by Sony before, in 2002. Then, the Japanese giant accused the company of copyright infringement in a bid to prevent it from selling PlayStation 2 modification chips. ®
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