European imports of the PS3 have been suspended for at least 10 days after Sony lost an important legal battle against rival LG.
Korean electronics giant LG is alleging the PS3 infringes patents it holds on technology used in the Blu-ray format, and has been seeking various injunctions on its sale and import as part of its ultimate goal of wringing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages from Sony in markets around the world.
European courts recently granted one such injunction, in the form of a 10 day freeze on PS3 imports (said to be 100,000 a week), which are now piling up in a warehouse under the custody of European customs authorities.
European sales of the PS3 itself are unaffected, but as these sales are dependent on imports retailers are now only able to sell whatever stock it is they have on hand – assuming the injunction is not extended, it is thought supplies should be sufficient to allow continued availability.
Needless to say, any further injunction is likely to be a colossal setback for Sony.
Sony for its part has been busy suing LG back, seeking various injunctions on its products as well, as part of a much larger patent war between the two.
Coming not long after Sony managed to get German police to raid the homes of PS3 hackers and seize their computers (a move which predictably backfired immediately as all their code was subsequently spread far and wide as the “screw you” effect kicked in), sympathy for Sony is understandably in short supply.