Accusations of patent infringements are thrown around between major tech manufacturers like confetti these days and to a certain extent are done to annoy rather than anything else. In one case however things have gone a little further. LG has managed to obtain a temporary injunction against the importation of any new PlayStation 3 consoles into Europe for the next ten days.
The ban comes after LG accused Sony of infringing a patent in relation to Blu-ray technology and means that any PS3s being imported into the UK or elsewhere in Europe will be confiscated. Already the Guardian is reporting that tens of thousands of consoles were seized in Holland last week. Should the ban on imports be extended however, it could see PS3s disappearing from our shelves in the near future with most retailers holding two to three weeks worth of stock at the moment.
The ban was imposed by the civil courts of justice in the Hague and Sony is frantically trying to get the ban lifted and is allowed to appeal the decision to the European patent office. However LG could apply to the same office to have the ban extended or even go so far as to have the consoles destroyed – but this is unlikely to happen. The patent infringement related to Blu-ray playback which LG claim Sony illegally used in the PS3. While the ban is a positive step for LG in the acrimonious battle with its fellow Asian giant, should it transpire that the patent does not stand up, it will have to pay the costs of storage of the consoles and compensation to Sony.
The situation is not as simple as one single patent case however, as Sony and LG are involved in seven separate patent disputes including one where Sony is attempting to get LG smartphones banned from the US over perceived patent infringements. It will be interesting to see if Sony manage to get the ban lifted and if not will the price of PS3s go through the roof here in Europe?