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PS3 customs seizures to cause short supply

Supplies of PlayStation 3 consoles could soon run dry in the UK and further afield as customs officials are ordered to seize European shipments.

The court-ordered ban on imports came about after LG won a preliminary injunction against Sony in a patent spat over the Blu-ray technology included in the popular games console.

Sony imports around 100,000 boxes into Europe every week, and while the current ten-day ban is unlikely to impact on inventory in the short term, if the injunction is extended stocks are likely to reach a level where demand outstrips supply in two to three weeks.

LG has also applied for a similar ban in other territories including the USA in a tit-for-tat battle between the two Far East electronics giant involving as many as seven separate patent disputes in either direction.

If LG wins its case, Sony could be forced to pay a licensing fee for every PS3 console ever sold worldwide. With more than 40 million consoles out there already, that could turn out to be a hefty chunk of change for a machine which only started turning a profit in June last year.

Shipments of the collared consoles are currently being stockpiled in the Dutch port of Rotterdam and Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, the two main points of entry for European imports.