The Guardian is reporting that European customs officers have been ordered to seize PS3 shipments after LG won a preliminary injunction against Sony in a patent battle between over Blu-ray.
The ruling has been made by the civil court of justice in the Hague, and apparently means that all new PS3s have to be confiscated as they are imported into the UK and the rest of Europe for at least 10 days.
If the injunction is extended, Sony faces the very real prospect of running out of hardware stock across Europe: that report claims that the company normally holds “two to three weeks’ worth of PS3s in stock across the continent.”
The Guardian has learnt that “tens of thousands of PS3s were seized by customs officers last week in the Netherlands” over the discpute, which revolves around Sony allegedly infringing use of Blu-ray technology belonging to LG.
Sony, which imports around 100,000 of the consoles a week, and is apparently “frantically” trying to get the ban uplifted.
This could spell actual disaster for Sony in Europe. While Sony is applying to overturn the ruling, LG can also apply to the same patents office to get the 10-day import ban extended.
LG is claiming that PS3 infringes a number of its patents relating to Blu-ray playback, and has called for an investigation into the the same issue with the US international trade commission earlier this month.
The firm is now seeking a “permanent exclusion order … excluding entry into the United States” of the console.
If it’s found that Sony’s infringed LG patents, it could be forced to compensate manufacturer for each PS3 sold. Ever.
More than 47.9 million units have been sold worldwide so far.
Rotterdam and Schiphol are the main import points for PS3s for both the UK and continental Europe. The consoles are being stockpiled in Dutch warehouses until it becomes clear how the case will develop.
A SCEE spokesperson told the Guardian: “We are currently looking into this matter, and cannot make any comments at this point in time.”