PlayStation 3 Import Temporarily Banned in Europe, Shortages Feared

February 28, 2011 Written by Sebastian Moss

Earlier this month, South Korean technology giant LG filed a claim with the International Trade Commission calling for a ban on PlayStation 3 sales in the US, saying that the console infringes on several of its patents, and while such a block has yet to appear in the States, shipments of PS3s are currently being seized by European customs officers across the EU, with a temporary ban on the console’s import now in full effect.

LG claims that Sony Blu-ray players, including the PS3, infringe on four patents involving data streaming, with the claims suspected to be a retaliation to Sony’s attempts to ban the sale of LG phones in the US. The ban, which is believed to have started some time last week, is set to last at least 10 days and blocks the import of PS3’s to Europe and the UK, mainly from Asia. The Guardian reports that already tens of thousands of PS3s have been seized by customs officers in the Netherlands.

With Sony importing around 100,000 consoles a week, the company is desperate to have the ban lifted as soon as possible, as each day costs the company millions in lost sales. Retailers generally have around 2-3 weeks in stock, so if the injunction is lengthened, then shortages are expected.

LG can apply to have the ban extended, or even request that impounded PS3’s are destroyed – although this is unlikely. Likewise, Sony can appeal to the European patents office to get the ban lifted. If the commission rules that Sony did infringe on LG patents, the company could be forced to compensate LG for every PS3 it has sold around the world, which could cost hundreds of millions.

A spokesperson for Sony told The Guardian:

We are currently looking into this matter, and cannot make any comments at this point in time.

PlayStation LifeStyle will keep you informed on the ban as it develops, but in the meantime, if you were planning on picking up a PS3 in the future, it may be best to buy it now.