Representatives from Hong Kong-based online retailer Lik-Sang.com have revealed that Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) have begun legal action against the company for selling PSP consoles to European customers.
SCEE alleges that Lik-Sang.com has breached Sony's trademark rights, and is seeking a court order that would prevent Lik-Sang.com from selling or offering systems, games and accessories to customers in the UK and the European Economic Area (EEA). "Lik-Sang's sales are an unlawful interference with Sony's economic interests", states Sony's legal correspondence.
Sony further claims copyright infringement and damages by mirroring the PSP manual on the news section of Lik-Sang.com during early June. Lik-Sang.com representatives claim that the manual was removed as soon as Sony first contacted them about the issue on June 14th.
In turn, Lik-Sang.com officials claim that Hong Kong law allows “parallel trading”, pointing out that the company is fully registered and operating in Hong Kong and has no ties with the UK. "This is the most aggressive move against its own customers that a console manufacturer has ever taken in the 30 year history of videogames", says Pascal Clarysse, marketing manager for Lik-Sang.com. "Sony wants to completely cut hardcore gamers away from items released in Japan or anywhere else outside their own country. A very active part of the gaming community has been enjoying Japanese gaming culture for over two decades, and that's what the Empire [sic] is now willing to destroy."
Sony has stepped up attempts to prevent the importation of the PSP to Europe as the date nears for the portable console’s European launch on September 1st. Importing is common in Europe for new consoles and software, as the territory is often made to wait a considerable amount of time for new products, with many not being published at all or being sold at a far higher price than the rest of the world.
The PSP “value” pack is sold in Japan for ¥26,040 ($233), in the U.S. for $249.99, and will be sold in the UK for £178.99 ($320). Lik-Sang.com currently sells the PSP value pack for $279.90 with free worldwide shipping. They also sell the “standard” pack bundle, featuring fewer accessories, for $249.90, which Sony has failed to make available outside of Japan. With the PSP not set to appear in Europe until almost nine months after the console initially launched, the import business has been understandably brisk.
Sony has already attempted to stop UK-based retailers from selling import PSP software and hardware, with some success - legal threats or court action against companies such as CEX and ElectricBirdLand have already been instituted, and Sony Europe recently won a court case against the UK-based Nuplayer which required that firm to stop selling imported titles.
Taking action against imports from outside of Europe, though, will present a more significant legal effort, which Sony seems determined to mount. Nonetheless, Lik-Sang.com has announced that its current daily business is apparently unaffected, and the company is assuring customers that there will be no disruption of service as the case continues.