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Sony vs. Lik-Sang |

What a horrible legal trainwreck this is. Can Sony ever avoid getting into a damaging war of words?!

For those unaware of what I am discussing, This week a British judge ruled that Lik-Sang, a Hong Kong based game exporter, had illegally sold PSPs to European consumers. Sony had made it clear to a group of exporters that they would be legally challenged unless they stopped selling the machines to European consumers in 2005.

At the time the PSP had been delayed in Europe by six months, (sound familiar?), so demand on sites like Lik-Sang and PlayAsia was high. PlayAsia took Sony’s threat of action seriously and pulled the product. Lik-Sang did not and that is what led to the lawsuit. On Monday the judge delivered his verdict; Lik-Sang had lost the case by infringing on Sony’s intellectual property rights. In other words, importing PS hardware, as a business, to the UK, is wrong.

And that is where it should have ended, in the interest of both parties. Unfortunately it has not.

Lik-Sang, clearly incensed with the decision and the costs they had to cover, have chosen to shut down their website. This is a terrible disappointment as Lik-Sang are widely regarded as one of the best companies to import from on the web, they have a huge range of stock, supply customers quickly and sort out any issues with speed. The message posted on their website placed the blame squarely on Sony, something I entirely agreed with.

Then they did something rather daft and odd; they revealed that Sony Computer Entertainment Europe personnel had imported their PSPs via Lik-Sang (and received chintzy freebies from Lik-Sang too). It highlighted the hypocrisy in Sony taking them to court, but it also raised questions over Lik-Sang’s privacy policy.

Then Sony released its own response which bought to light other details, namely that Lik-Sang did not contest the case, has not paid any compensation and that PSP consoles were bought by Sony employees for “investigatory purposes”. I don’t buy the last part one bit, but I do find it interesting that, despite not having paid Sony a cent, Lik-Sang is ceasing trading. It makes Lik-Sang appear unprofessional and Sony appear as a bully.

A legal wrangle that was meant to stop the “business” side of hardware exports and imports has actually closed the door on software sales. In my opinion Sony had the right aims here, some of these companies can be very dodgy, but they completely targeted the wrong group. Hopefully software exporters will not be too harmed from this, the rise of “region free gaming” makes them more important than before!

Put mildly, nobody wins from this. Sony gets the whole wrath of the hardcore gaming community for slamming the door on a well regarded import business, I have seen enough people calling this the “final straw”. Meanwhile Lik-Sang gets a tarnished reputation after years of building the business. What does this mean with regards to PS3 though is that importing hardware to Europe is out of the question unless you have a personal friend in Japan or the US.


  • I’m more of a free-market kind of guy myself. While I understand the reasoning behind Sony’s action, I don’t agree with them.

    If a company wants to import a product from region A and sell it in region B, the only thing that should be able to stop that company is safety concerns. If the product doesn’t meet region B’s safety guidelines, then it should be disallowed.

    Hmm. Why do I have the feeling that there’s a big hole in that argument somewhere, and that I just haven’t seen it? I’m sure someone will point it out!

  • R.I.P. Lik-Sang, you’ll be missed.

  • Luke

    i’ve never even heard of lik sang before. is that bad?

  • Darrin

    Lik-Sang clearly violated legal restrictions. I don’t understand why those restrictions that prohibit importing exist in the first place but companies should either challenge them to get them changed or abide by them. Lik-Sang did neither.

  • Agreed.

  • ehandlr

    /sigh…dead horse how I beat thee. Lik-Sang has been sued by Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony…twice… They were advocates of piracy and illegal import/export trade.

    We all know that Sony loses money on illegal import/export…that alone is enough to make it understandable. Local franchises such as Gamestop/EB also lose revenue. Monthly sales projections from Sony would be skewed. The government doesn’t get to tax it first.

    There are sooo many negatives to import/export while there is only one benefit for import/export. In the end…we as gamers still lose.

  • I dont understand that… (and now it gets a bit political too)

    I mean, why does Sony care? They sell their system, its great for “personal advertising” if a german has a PS3 and whatnot…

    But VIOLATING Copyright (tha’s what said, a VERY reliable source)? I mean, come on?

    What I REALLY hate about this is the general view of this. I mean, companies totally abuse and exploit the advantages of globalisation and now they prohibit US to do the same thing? Come ON! Its the same with allofmp3 . com (not linking to, german courts said that thats “copyright infringing!!) . They licensed in Russia at ROMS (russian equivalent to the RIAA or the german GEMA) and sell their stuff at a bargain (which I would REALLY pay for, and you dont have the hassle of DRM, as I am a Linux guy, I cant use any MS DRM stuff). The MPAA is pissed and tries to sue and blackmail (WTO and all that stuff), because they undercut their prices and legal “schemes”.

    There IS a law in Germany which prohibits “grey importing” (Importing dvds from abroad which arent yet released here, but US dvds differ MUCH from the german ones, so this law doesnt apply), but usually nobody cares about that (there were some legal discussions about that, because of ebay some time back).

    I dont know, how to go one, I am really sad about this development!!

    So, farewell…

  • Well for those crying over Lik-Sang, there is still Play Asia. However they did violate trade law. I can see how sony would feel it important to deal with them now, being that they dont want there to be issues with PS3’s being sold to territories before the system is launched there. I never imported a system, or a game for that matter. so all of this is essentially a non story to me.

    Lik-Sang is also resorting to some rather unprofessional behavior in the wake of the ruling. Naming names, using inflammatory statements, and basically being whiny babies. They didnt have the close their doors, they could have easily taken the Play Asia route.

  • Very well written post.