Online videogame retailer Lik-Sang has shut down its operation, citing lawsuits by Sony Computer Entertainment as the reason. The console manufacturer had strongly objected to the company importing its PlayStation Portable console from Asia and selling it in Europe and North America. This practise is sometimes referred to as parallel trade, parallel import or grey import.
A company statement quotes Pascal Clarysse, Lik-Sang´s marketing manager, as saying:
Today is Sony Europe victory about 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. It’s the beginning of the end... of the World as we know it. (...)
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 the news, but everybody else in the gaming world lost something today.
Sony, on the other hand, deny any involvement in the closure of the online retailer, speaking to GamesIndustry.biz:
Lik-Sang did not contest this case. 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 found against them.
My own research suggests, though, that the ruling of the High Court in London may, in fact, contravene European Union law. The E.U. Commission has made it quite clear that it welcomes parallel trade in the games industry:
Restrictions of parallel trade represent an infringement of Article 81 of the EU treaty. Experience has proven that parallel trade leads to efficiency gains and lower prices in the EU and is, thus, beneficial for consumers.
Further, Mario Monti, the former Commissioner in charge of competition, noted as part of a similar ruling against Nintendo:
The European Commission is here to protect the public from business practices designed to keep prices artificially high. European families spend millions every year on video games and we want to make sure that they are not being swindled.
This may be a case for the European Court of Justice.
Sources: Lik-Sang, GamesIndustry.biz, Europa server, Europa server
Thanks to: Codename Revolution