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Import Ban Could See PS3 Drought

David Gilbert by

Import Ban Could See PS3 Drought

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?

Source: Guardian

Go to comments

Gk.pm

March 1, 2011, 10:04 pm

This confirms what Steve Jobs meant as Blu-Ray being a bag of hurt. Even Sony, the one company that saved the format from the fierce battle against HD-DVD, now gets in deep trouble in its own camp.

Guess there really is no hope for Blu-Ray on Macs now...

ChaosDefinesOrder

March 1, 2011, 10:33 pm

This must be a complicated case because how else can a member of the "Blu-ray Disc founder group" be infringing a patent on Blu-Ray playback? The first Blu-Ray player to market was a Sony player as well!

Also, how the hell are Apple on the Board Of Directors for the Blu-Ray Disc Association (and, according to Wikipedia, paying $50,000 a year to be as such!) if they're apparently so against the format?

Jmac

March 1, 2011, 10:38 pm

Very interesting. If the embargo sticks, I might stick my PS3 on eBay then buy back in when the ban is inevitably lifted in a few months. I never play the thing in summer anyway...

Blu-Ray on Macs? Doubtful. Maybe in a year or two if Apple can't get their streaming dreams off the ground, but for now I doubt it puts many people off buying a Mac who otherwise would have done; it would add extra expense (though Apple would doubtless ramp their prices accordingly...); and it would eat into Apple's grand design of selling you HD content through iTunes rather than old fashioned optical discs. Apple need to get their 30% cut on everything you buy, right?

I guess maybe, just maybe Blu-Ray might debut as a £300 option in the next gen of Macs?? :D

betelgeus

March 2, 2011, 12:10 am

how can this be sony created bluray sold ps3's at a loss to compete with hddvd,won the war and now are taken to court by lg who have never devised or created a single piece of software or hardware in their history.

Gk.pm

March 2, 2011, 4:25 am

The full text of the complaint is here: http://www.itcblog.com/wp-cont...

I have to agree with @betelgeus, the patents covered are ridiculous "inventions", they are quite obvious things, but still I can see how they are just enough to hold up in court.

Steve Austin

March 2, 2011, 12:43 pm

@ChaosDefinesOrder - Apple are just biding their time, they'll jump onboard with BluRay when they feel like it, and when they do they'll want a seat at the table. $50,000 doesn't even classify as small change with a company the size of Apple.

PGrGr

March 2, 2011, 2:55 pm

I know nothing about patents and patent law, but it does seem to be patently obvious that this is one area where reform is much needed. I get the idea of an invention being protected for a small entrepreneur, but these tech patents lawsuits are ridiculous and don't serve the consumer in the slightest. I can see how they might serve shareholders, but most shareholders will hold shares in more than one company, so the lawsuits just add a cost across the industry, so most shareholders won't even benefit. I suppose if I were a shareholding director on the board of one of these giants, I might be one of the few people to really benefit.

HeyZuZe

March 2, 2011, 3:31 pm

@Bluepork
I think your missing the point (in patent law) if a company spends a gazillion quid on developing a tech then it ether wants to sell it on its own or charge other companies for the privilege for not having to spend all that RD on solving the problem, this is progress.

Back to the article, Sony wont let this go on for long at all.

as for Apples with BluRay drives who cares, anyone?

TheFlyingGerbil

March 2, 2011, 4:28 pm

I think your last paragraph says it all. Sony are trying to block LG phones in the US. Surely all this will end with a patent sharing deal.

PGrGr

March 4, 2011, 5:21 pm

@HeyZuZe. No, I'm not missing the point at all. Most economists agree that patents are bad for consumers. Why? Because, contrary to intuition, there's little proof that they encourage innovation. On the contrary, they slow it down. Once a company has secured a patent, they will do everything they can to protect their invention and maximise their revenue stream from it, putting off releases of better products until that revenue stream is exhausted. It may be that another company could improve on the invention, but they can't now do this, because the patent gets in the way. In economics terms, the patent stymies normal competitive forces, redistributing wealth from consumers to companies.

That said, I do understand and agree with the fact that patents are necessary to protect big investment. No-one wants to do a load of work just to see other folks free-ride on the back of it. This is why I said patent law needs reform, not abolition.

What I object to is the disingenuous use of patents, which is what we see all the time in the tech world. We see companies using patents they have to sue other companies for infringements that are not genuine attempts to free-ride on someone else's work. It may just be that there is an area of overlap between similar technologies, and some lawyer or other realises that they can generate a bunch of cash from a situation. It's no different to ambulance chasing, really.

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