LG vs Sony: court battle over PS3 seizures due tomorrow

UPDATE: Sony was able to lift apparently all restrictions against it and LG was ordered to pay it substantial damages.  More here.

Sony and LG are set to go to court in Holland tomorrow over a court order apparently obtained last week by LG for the seizure of reportedly tens of thousands of PlayStation 3s.  This appears to be a separate strand to the patents battle ongoing between Sony and LG over the PlayStation 3 among other devices.

Florian Mueller over at Foss Patents has all the details.  Here’s my view of the highlights:

  • It seems that, at around the same time that LG secured a temporary ban on the importation of PS3s into Holland, it also obtained a seizure order over PS3s stores in a Sony warehouse in Holland.  As I said, media reports suggest tens of thousands of PS3s may have been seized.
  • Sony was not given advance notice of the seizure (apparently because the judge ruled Sony the opportunity to move its PlayStations out of that warehouse ahead of confiscation).  However, Sony was given permission to appeal against the seizure – which is now set for a court hearing in The Hague tomorrow (10th March).
  • Sony will of course be wanting to have that seizure order overturned, whereas LG will want to extend it – much like the position regarding the temporary importation ban (no news on that, by the way).
  • The court documents filed in support of this seizure order set out interesting details about LG’s explanation why this litigation started up in the first place. 
  • Basically, it seems that LG and Sony were in discussions late last year about giving each other licences over technology underlying a whole range of products.  LG wanted to give Sony only a licence over Bluray technology (and leave the other products for another licence(s), but Sony wanted a licence to cover everything. 
  • LG says that, when these discussions failed, Sony then launched legal action in the US and LG responded with its own legal action in Europe and the US.

So, what’s the current state of play?

(1) Sony and LG will go to court tomorrow over the seizure order – watch this space for more.  In the meantime, bear in mind that the seizure order does not mean conclusively that LG was right and Sony was wrong.  It simply means that the judge felt that LG’s case is sufficiently convincing to warrant the seizure ahead of a full court hearing – but the judge won’t have been able to come to a full decision yet.
(2) The temporary ban on importing the PS3 into Holland is still in place but I suspect is soon to run out – which will mean another court hearing soon.
(3) What impact will the seizure of the PS3s have on PS3 stocks in Europe?  Will it change analysts’ assessments that stocks won’t run low anytime soon?
(4) If in due course a judge finds that LG was wrong to have obtained the importation ban or the PS3 seizures, it would in principle be liable to pay potentially substantial compensation to Sony.
(4) We’ve yet to hear Sony’s side of the story…

Again, go to Foss Patents for all the details.  I’ll write another update when I hear more.


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2 comments

  1. What has LG ever brought to the consumer electronics industry of revolutionary importance? Nothing i can think of and nothing i can find on the internet.

    Sony on the other hand have played an instrumental role in the current state of technological evolution. From the pioneering of the first personal music player to collaborating on technologies such as the Cassette Tape, Compact Disc, Digital Versatile Disc and now Blu Ray. Including the importance of the Sony brand to the movie industry (Avatar).

    LG however have developed some strong lines but most of that exists in whitegoods and other industries.

    I find it hard to understand how LG can freely claim infringement when both companies contributed to Blu Ray and are key members of the BDA.

    From a hardware perspective i find it very hard to believe LG's stand on targeting the PS3, the hardware used for Blu Ray playback on the PS3 is somewhat different to anything LG has ever implemented in any of it's consumer BD players. I can understand this claim if it included Sony BD Players only, or if they were included in this claim. To conclude this point, the PS3 has recently completed its 4th year on the market, why NOW does LG target this issue. I can understand this claim if this alleged infringement was rolled out in a recent PS3 update however. Although it seems unlikely.

    The politics of the consumer electronics industry in the end only end up hurting the consumer, collaboration and co operation paves the way for technological evolution.

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