UK retailer slams Sony over PSP trademark issue

ElectricBirdLand speaks out.

Speaking exclusively to our sister site GamesIndustry.biz, Dan Morelle - managing director of online store ElectricBirdLand - has claimed the European launch of PSP could be delayed as Sony has yet to register vital trademarks.

Morelle also slammed Sony’s attempts to prevent UK retailers importing and selling US and Japanese PSPs, telling GI.biz: "Sony has a dominant position within the gaming industry, but the threat of legal action makes them no more than a playground bully.

"Their approach to business is to throw money and brute force at a problem until it is resolved. The industry is sick of Sony using its financial backing to control the market," he added.

Morelle's comments are in response to Cease and Desist orders issued by Sony's lawyers, which instruct retailers to stop selling imported PSPs on the grounds that this infringes trademarks.

However, ElectricBirdLand argues that Sony has so far failed to register key PSP technologies, trademarks and software, and that the Cease and Desist orders can only refer to the 'PlayStation' trademark as a result.

"Sony's failure to secure these trademarks could potentially lead to further delays to the European launch of the PSP, or could result in the costly re-branding of a product which has already proved to be a hit in the US and Japan," EBL said.

Morelle points out that the 'PSP' initials are currently used by UK firm Owtanet Ltd for their Owtanet PSP software, standing for Publishing, Shopping and Profiles.

An Owtanet representative confirmed to GamesIndustry.biz that it registered the PSP trademark in 2000, but declined to offer further comment as "legal proceedings are currently underway."

ElectricBirdLand says that the use of 'UMD', which Sony has titled its proprietary optical storage solution, is also being contested by processor manufacturer Advanced Micro Devices Inc. on the grounds that it is too similar to 'AMD'. AMD representatives said they were not in a position to comment at the time of writing.

EBL currently offers the US PSP Value Pack - which includes a UK charger, USB cable, case and 32MB Memory Stick - for under £200, inclusive of delivery. The console is due to officially go on sale in Europe on September 1 priced £179, following a series of launch date slips. The PSP launched in Japan last December and in the US in March.

"What Sony has done with the PSP is create an outstanding consumer product and the demand we are experiencing is testament to that," said Morelle.

"But when you are 6 months late coming to market with such an amazing product, importers like ElectricBirdLand become the lifeblood of that brand.

"Thinking that it is okay to keep customers waiting six months for a product while attempting to stop anyone else from selling it shows Sony to be nothing more than a spoilt child."

Morelle went on to reject suggestions that his comments were simply designed to attack Sony, stating: "I am waiting for Sony to tell me exactly how we are damaging the Sony brand.

"The way I see it is that we are assisting it. That’s why it’s so crazy that Sony is picking on the smaller businesses.

"I’m not a suitcase-wielding spiv and we’re not knocking these products up in our garden shed. We make it very clear to our customers that these products are from Japan. We’re simply giving them what they want, when they want it," he continued.

When asked if EBL planned to continue selling the PSP despite Sony's legal move, Morelle replied: "Most definitely yes."

"The fact that we can get hold of stock that is, according to Sony, is not available breaks the invisible thread of Sony Computer Entertainment’s new clothes that they base this whole delay on," he continued.

"Consumer demand has shown that Sony cannot have its cake and eat it."

A Sony representative responded: "We informed trade accounts of our position on this matter in a letter sent out in April, and are now following this through and enforcing our IP rights, where necessary.

"The law is clear, and the activity of parallel importing of PSP products from the US/Japan is unlawful. It should be clearly understood that under no circumstances does Sony Computer Entertainment consent to such activities."

"SCE can confirm that the PSP is still on schedule for a September launch," the representative added.

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About the author

Ellie Gibson

Ellie Gibson

Contributor  |  elliegibson

Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.

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