Lik-Sang sunk by Sony suits

Independent import game company to close after latest loss in court; PlayStation 3-maker calls accusations "sour grapes."

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Hong Kong-based online gaming retailer Lik-Sang is closing down after Sony's latest court win against the company.

Sony recently hauled Lik-Sang to court for a second time, this time claiming it had infringed Sony trademarks, copyrights, and registered design rights by selling Japanese PSPs to European customers. Lik-Sang did not have legal representatives present at the hearing in London, and the judge found in favour of Sony.

Sony told GameSpot in a statement that it would be moving to block any other retailers who were involved in similar "grey importing" activities, and explained its actions were protecting European consumers "from being sold hardware that does not conform to strict European Union or UK consumer safety standards."

Lik-Sang responded by rebuffing these safety claims, and stated that all PSPs it sold contained genuine Sony 100V-240V AC adapters to deal with the voltage issue, and that the handhelds conformed to all EU and UK consumer safety regulations.

Pascal Clarysse, former marketing manager for Lik-Sang, said that the company made the decision to close as the court victory would set precedents for further cases against it. He said: "Today is Sony Europe's victory about the PSP, tomorrow is Sony Europe's ongoing pressure about PlayStation 3. With this precedent set, next week could already be the stage for complaints from Sony America about the same thing, or from other console manufacturers about other consoles to other regions, or even from any publisher about any specific software title to any country they don't see fit."

Effective immediately, Lik-Sang will not be accepting any new orders and will be cancelling and refunding all existing orders. It added that it would be doing its best to work with banks and PayPal to refund all store credits held by the company and handle pending returns and repairs. Any attempt to place orders on the site redirects visitors to its official statement of closure.

Lik-Sang also claimed that Sony Computer Entertainment Europe executives themselves had bought imported PSP goods from their company, and went on to name names. Clarysse said: "Sony Europe's very own top directors repeatedly got their Sony PSP hard or software imports in nicely packaged Lik-Sang parcels with free Lik-Sang mugs or Lik-Sang badge holders, starting just two days after Japan's official release, as early as December 14, 2004 (more than nine months earlier than the legal action)."

Clarysse added that the blame for the closure rests squarely on Sony's shoulders. "Blame it on Sony. That's the latest dark spot in their shameful track record as gaming industry leader. The Empire finally 'won,' few dominating retailers from the UK probably will rejoice [in] the news, but everybody else in the gaming world lost something today."

[UPDATE] GameSpot asked Sony to respond to the developments, but spokespersons for the company had made no comment as of press time. However, in a statement given to British game-industry magazine MCV, the company took a defiant tone.

"Sony Computer Entertainment successfully sued Pacific Game Technology (Holding) Limited for infringing [on] our Intellectual Property rights," said Sony. "Lik Sang did not contest this case (ie. they did not turn up and therefore incurred no legal costs). We have been awarded substantial costs against Lik Sang which have not been paid. We would therefore strongly deny that our actions have had anything to do with this website closing (we assume the legal entity is still trading) and would suggest that this release is sour grapes on behalf of Lik Sang which is aimed to belittle Sony Computer Entertainment and the British judicial system that ruled against them."

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