Several thousand more PlayStation 3s were seized by Dutch customs officials on the eve of Sony's courtoom showdown with Korea-based LG, whose allegations of patent infringement have effectively halted the distribution of consoles across Europe the past 10 days.
LG, which claims the PS3's Blu-ray playback technology violates patents it holds, got a Netherlands court to order the seizure of consoles - including those already in homes, reports The Guardian. Tomorrow, at an emergency hearing in The Hague, Sony will fight to have LG's blockade lifted. LG will likely ask that the consoles be destroyed, underscoring what is already a very tense dispute between the electronics rivals.
In North America, the United States' international trade commission has accepted LG's demand that it investigate the matter. LG had sought a similar court order barring PS3s from being imported into the U.S. If Sony is found to have infringed LG's patents, the compensation it would owe is easily in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
A Sony spokesperson acknowledged the consoles' seizure in the Netherlands, noted it was a temporary withholding under a preliminary injunction, and said Sony considers LG's allegations "unwarranted." The Guardian said Sony imports some 100,000 PS3s into Europe each week.
PS3s seized in Sony-LG patent dispute [The Guardian. Image by Getty Images.]