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Sony Wins U.K. Lik-Sang Grey Market Case – Lik-Sang Shuts Down

Categories: Distribution Agmt CasesGrey Market CasesImport/Export CasesStruggling FirmsTrademark Cases

Sony has won a High Court Judgment in the U.K. banning Hong-Kong based Lik-Sang.com from selling PSP consoles into the European Economic Area. While Hong-Kong-based Lik-Sang did participate in pre-trial activities, it did not show up in court to contest the case. Thus, a default judgment was awarded to Sony.

This action was launched in August of 2005 when Lik-Sang sold PSPs into Europe after Sony delayed North American and European shipments for many months after the Japanese PSP launch. The same sort of delay is about to occur with the PS3. Sony is launching the PS3 in the Japanese and North American markets months before Europe.

[October 24 Update:]After years of fighting Sony, Lik-Sang has closed its e-doors. In an interesting side-story, Sony’s European management purchased Sony products from Lik-Sang when unavailable in Europe (See BBC Story). Pascal Clarysse, former marketing manager for Lik-Sang, had this to say on closing:

“Blame it on Sony. That’s the latest dark spot in their shameful track record as gaming industry leader. The ‘empire’ finally won. A few dominating retailers from the U.K. probably will rejoice (in) the news, but everybody else in the gaming world lost something today.”

Sony dismissed this as sour grapes. A similar Hong-Kong-based case between the parties continues.

Dale’s Comment: I understand Sony’s need to protect the interests of its European distributors and its trademarks. I also understand its wanting to protect its own economic interests by means of region-by-region product launches. But its claim that the lawsuit was brought to protect consumers’ safety is, of course, nonsense.

In a world of global markets with the ability to deliver products throughout the Globe overnight, one wonders if this market-by-market distribution model is appropriate any more. It certainly is far from consumer friendly or fair. Lik-Sang met a real consumer need. Through Lik-Sang, Sony’s most loyal fans had a means to purchase Sony products long before Sony had the wherewithal to launch/distribute products in their particular country. Sometimes it takes years before Sony launches a product into a given market (if ever). With this ruling, there is no legal way for etailers to sell into markets not served, or underserved by Sony and its resellers.

As a Canadian living right next to the U.S., I have oft experienced the frustration of not being able to purchase products and services only made available in the U.S. I relish the fact that etailers such as Lik-sang are willing to serve the needs of consumers in under-served regions of the world.

Lawsuit Stories: Gamasutra | Engadget | GameIndustry.biz | GameSpot | *GameDaily.biz | PC Pro | IGN | ars technica | TVG | BetaNews | Pocket-lint | GameIndustry.biz| Daily Tech

Lik-Sang Closing Stories: Lik-Sang.com Notice | Gamastura | ars technica | Outlaw.com | ZDNet | Engadget | BBC | GameSpot | GameDaily.biz | GameShout | CNet | afterdawn | PC Pro | IGN | NeoSeeker | Pocket-Lint | Gizmodo | Inquirer | Hexus | GameIndustry.biz | EuroGamer | Kotaku | Gadgetspy | PC World | Games Digest

Blogosphere: Bit-tech.net

Engadget Podcast 93 Coverage (Time Index 4:44-12:33).

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