Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Lik-Sang.com out of business
October 24, 2006 8:01 AM   Subscribe

A sad day for import video gamers- online retailer Lik-Sang has closed its doors due to multiple lawsuits from Sony.
posted by Dr-Baa (66 comments total)

 
Sorry- the first link should be like this.
posted by Dr-Baa at 8:03 AM on October 24, 2006


every day is sad, for a video-gamer.
posted by wumpus at 8:05 AM on October 24, 2006 [6 favorites]


Don't rub it in :(
posted by jenovus at 8:10 AM on October 24, 2006


Oh, fuck Sony: ultimately, we're trying to protect consumers from being sold hardware that does not conform to strict EU or UK consumer safety standards, due to voltage supply differences et cetera.

Lies! This is really horrible... LS was second to none. Grrrr.
posted by prostyle at 8:12 AM on October 24, 2006


every day is sad, for a video-gamer.

Ooh, burn. I can't wait for the comment on how we're all fat pasty nerds who live in our parents' basement.
posted by Dr-Baa at 8:15 AM on October 24, 2006


Gamers are fit, tanned studs who live in penthouses
posted by ernie at 8:21 AM on October 24, 2006


Where's my exercise bike, tanning lotion and penthouse, dammit?

Lik-sang's farewell adress is pretty good.

Furthermore, Sony have failed to disclose to the London High Court that not only the world wide gaming community in more than 100 countries relied on Lik-Sang for their gaming needs, but also Sony Europe's very own top directors repeatedly got their Sony PSP hard or software imports in nicely packed Lik-Sang parcels with free Lik-Sang Mugs or Lik-Sang Badge Holders, starting just two days after Japan's official release, as early as 14th of December 2004 (more than nine months earlier than the legal action). The list of PSP related Sony Europe orders reads like the who's who of the videogames industry, and includes Ray Maguire (Managing Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd), Alan Duncan (UK Marketing Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd), Chris Sorrell (Creative Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd), Rob Parkin (Development Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited), just to name a few.

- Ouch. They stuck it to them.
posted by Swandive at 8:29 AM on October 24, 2006


Sony may have finaly crossed the tipping point into being more evil than Microsoft.
posted by aerotive at 8:36 AM on October 24, 2006


Lik-Sang was an excellent Net retailer: they were fast, reliable, and honest. This is really a shame. :(
posted by Malor at 8:44 AM on October 24, 2006


Sony Europe's very own top directors repeatedly got their Sony PSP hard or software imports in nicely packed Lik-Sang parcels

Awesome.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:44 AM on October 24, 2006


Yet another reason to never buy anything from Sony ever again.
posted by bshort at 8:50 AM on October 24, 2006


Ooh, burn. I can't wait for the comment on how we're all fat pasty nerds who live in our parents' basement.

My intuition has been off lately, but do you think he really meant it that way? His username is wumpus, for goodness sake.
posted by dreamsign at 8:53 AM on October 24, 2006


Lik-Sang calling out some motherfuckers like that? Priceless. Fuck you, Sony.
posted by Mikey-San at 8:53 AM on October 24, 2006


Sony may have finaly crossed the tipping point into being more evil than Microsoft.

All three console makers have sued Lik-Sang at one time or another. Nintendo over flash carts; Microsoft over mod chips.

I don't agree with Sony Europe's practice of suing importers who are selling products to Europe, but it's not like Lik Sang's never been taken to court before.

And the "end of the world" stuff is a bit over the top - Play-Asia, when faced with the same sorts of action from Sony over importing PSPs to Europe, simply dropped the product. They're still very much around.
posted by Remy at 8:53 AM on October 24, 2006


Remy - It's not terribly clear in the press release, but from comments on their forums it seems Lik-Sang was forced into bankruptcy to pay for the legal fees from Sony's lawsuits. So they won't be shipping anything.
posted by coffeespoons at 8:58 AM on October 24, 2006


How is selling a product to someone in a different country against the law?

What law?
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 8:58 AM on October 24, 2006


Also, I haven't bought a Sony product since I bought a PS2 in 2001. And I actively try to persuade others to do the same. This pretty much cements my resolve in that area. Fuck Sony and their stupid protectionist bullshit legal tactics.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 9:00 AM on October 24, 2006



My intuition has been off lately, but do you think he really meant it that way? His username is wumpus, for goodness sake.


True. If that's the case, mea culpa.

I just get (perhaps overly) defensive when people make generalizations like that relating to a hobby. I mean, not all football fans are middle-aged couch potatoes, right?
posted by Dr-Baa at 9:00 AM on October 24, 2006


Can Sony suck any harder? It's become a philosophical question of late.

Count me in as someone who'll never buy a product with the name Sony on it again. Actually I've already been doing that for some time.
posted by clevershark at 9:03 AM on October 24, 2006


But... I 9829 katamari
posted by dreamsign at 9:08 AM on October 24, 2006


ah bloody hell, it worked in preview
posted by dreamsign at 9:09 AM on October 24, 2006


My anger at this issue will be tempered somewhat by the schadenfreude of watching the PS3 and Blu-Ray crash and burn in a resistant marketplace in the coming months.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:14 AM on October 24, 2006


Yet another reason to never buy anything from Sony ever again

this silly DRM/protectionism thing sucks, especially coming for megacorporations that are allegedly pro free markets: I hear you, but their cameraphones are pretty good, though (and the alternative to Sony, for game console, is Mr. Gates's outfit, isn't it? how is that better than Sony)
posted by matteo at 9:15 AM on October 24, 2006


Does this mean I shouldn't pick up those Sonny speakers at the flea market? It was a tough call as the Alphine ones looked good, but I wouldn't bet on the Pannasonics lasting long.
posted by ernie at 9:16 AM on October 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


did you deliberately misspell every single manufacturer you just named?
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 9:18 AM on October 24, 2006


"and the alternative to Sony, for game console, is Mr. Gates's outfit, isn't it? how is that better than Sony"

Are Wii forgetting someone?
posted by stenseng at 9:20 AM on October 24, 2006


They were only sued in the U.K? why did they feel the need to shutdown entirely? Where their bank accounts in the U.K, or something?

It just dosn't make sense to me, it appears that Lik-Sang was prevented from shipping Sony products to the U.K. and decided to shut down their entire bussness as a result. I just dosn't make sense to me.

In any event, boycotts and shit arn't going to do anything. The vast majority of buyers are "low information buyers", they don't know about all this crap. It's a shame really. If people knew what these companies did they wouldn't patronise them.

Anyway, I wrote off sony long ago.
posted by delmoi at 9:20 AM on October 24, 2006


This is sad. Lik-Sang was awesome. I often found things there that Play Asia didn't have, and they shipped faster.

And for Sony to pretend it was about "protecting" people? That's just insulting.
posted by Sibrax at 9:22 AM on October 24, 2006


did you deliberately misspell every single manufacturer you just named?

Lets just say I know of a little place where HUGE bargains are to be had for those not so picky about things like "spelling" and "quality".
posted by ernie at 9:30 AM on October 24, 2006


This is extraordinary. Less than a month from the release of their biggest product of the last three years, Sony has just alienated the core community of hardcore gamers around the world. The company has already ensured that early adopters in Europe will be unable to get hold of PS3s before the EU roll-out next year. What else can they do to sabotage the PS3 launch?

Apparently part of Sony's original court filing was a demand for the names and addresses of everyone who'd bought a grey-import PSP. Why? So they can cancel some guarantees and shoot themselves in the foot again?
posted by Hogshead at 9:38 AM on October 24, 2006


Pfft. I know a genuine Panaphonics when I see it. And look, there's Magnetbox and Sorny!
posted by zsazsa at 9:38 AM on October 24, 2006


did you deliberately misspell every single manufacturer you just named?

I guess you've never heard of Sorny or Magnetbox.
posted by Mikey-San at 9:39 AM on October 24, 2006


Sony's present actions remind me of Nintendo's at the height of the NES's popularity and the release of the GameGenie (amongst other "unlicensed" products).

Nintendo has come a long way since then. I figure that they've been given a healthy dose of humility over the past two console generations. Now they're all about the consumer and developer relationship. They're a company I want to do business with.

And as much distaste as I have for Microsoft as a whole, they're doing many things right in the XBox division. The 360 is a really decent platform - hampered only by its MS (i.e. evil) roots and the anti-N. American sentiment from the Japanese in this market segment.

Sony is now the old king, grasping for any shred of respect. With each desperate action, it's just digging into a deeper grave. Perhaps they'll re-emerge when the next generation hits the ground but they're not going to win this generation war.
posted by C.Batt at 9:42 AM on October 24, 2006


sony can suck a dick.
except, they'd suck your elbow and tell you it was just as good. or something.
posted by bonaldi at 9:46 AM on October 24, 2006 [2 favorites]


Well, I wasn't planning on buying a PS3 anyways, but now I'm REALLY not buying a PS3. If only I could could somehow not buy one even more than I'm already not buying one, like selling one, but without having to buy it first.

Sony does indeed seem to be mirroring Nintendo's 80's era overconfidence and foot-shooting.
posted by Durhey at 10:22 AM on October 24, 2006


I'm having trouble finding an impartial news source for this. The "forced to shut by Sony" headline sounds like bullshit digg-bating to me, so I'm guessing there's more to this story. Ars thinks it's a publicity stunt, and they'll re-open soon enough.

Also, none of the articles I've found seem to have a proper summary of the ruling (is it online?), and just say "exporting ruled illegal", which is obviously nonsense, so again there's a lot more to this story, and the gamer press suck.
posted by cillit bang at 10:24 AM on October 24, 2006


Hasn't foot-shooting been Sony's primary business model for the past two decades?
posted by mr_roboto at 10:24 AM on October 24, 2006


Well, this just made my decision easier. I already had philosophical problems in spending so much on a game box, but given their behaviour there's no way I'll buy a PS3.
They have always sucked at dealing with their customers. I've had problems with them before, and their product quality ain't what it used to be either.
posted by bashos_frog at 10:27 AM on October 24, 2006


This makes no sense to me. Sony is essentially saying, "We don't want you to sell our products to those customers."
posted by jefbla at 10:29 AM on October 24, 2006


Screw Sony. Between the battery recall, DRM and proprietary formats, their declining build quality, and now this... They've kissed off any chance of me ever buying a PS3 or any other Sony product.

Seriously, Lik-Sang actually delivered on their promises (unlike some brick-and-mortar -- *cough*EBGAMESTOP*cough* -- companies). Sad day for videogaming.
posted by vanadium at 10:34 AM on October 24, 2006


In other news, Sony is suing to shut down K-Mart in order to protect people who buy Sony products from the horrible, horrible shambling hordes of mutants that shop there.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:34 AM on October 24, 2006


Sony may have finaly crossed the tipping point into being more evil than Microsoft.
posted by aerotive at 8:36 AM PST


Considering the use of lobbyists of Sony to get the DMCA and other laws passed VS Microsofts lobbying efforts......Sony's hired thugs via law has made them more evil than Microsoft for some time.

Microsoft just let you sign a contract and beat yourself up. And once you walk away from the computer, Microsofts power drops off.

Sony with its support for laws like the DMCA is the gift that keeps giving. Unless you walk away from media.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:46 AM on October 24, 2006


Sony's response posted at Eurogamer
posted by lucien at 10:46 AM on October 24, 2006


So Pacific Trading shut down their Lik-Sang site purely as a publicity stunt and a fuck you to Sony? That is genuinely the coolest thing ever. I've suddenly gained a whole lot more respect for them.
posted by cillit bang at 10:57 AM on October 24, 2006


The full text of the English court judgement

Conclusion

The acts of which complaint is made have in my view been perpetrated not in Hong Kong but here in the EEA, and without Sony's consent. Moreover, it would make no sense if intellectual property rights in the EEA could be avoided merely by setting up a website outside the EEA crafted to sell within it. Were the acts of which complaint is made to have been committed physically within the EEA they would unarguably have been infringing acts. I cannot see how the electronic intermediary of a website which focussed at least in part on the EEA would make them any less so. In my judgment, Sony are entitled to relief in this action [...]

posted by patricio at 10:59 AM on October 24, 2006


OK, you're missing the big picture here. This isn't about Lik-Sang. This isn't about the TINY, TINY fraction of one percent of sales gained\lost because of them doing this.

This is about Sony retaining control over regional pricing.

Sony (and most other large corporations) want to be able to lock in the prices in every country and make importing illegal. Why? So that they can sell products in country A for twice what they charge country B with complete impunity. Since it's impossible to restrict global travel, they're settling for the next best thing.

The court system.

For free trade to work, it must be FREE TRADE. People must be able to openly resell legally purchased property. Otherwise, we're looking at a future of capitalistic feudalism, where only the manufacturers can buy at the lowest prices and the rest of us have no legal purchasing options except to buy at the highest.

Look for more lawsuits like this in the coming years, boys and girls. And not just from Sony. Look to the US battle over imported drugs for an excellent example. It's happening all over, and almost no one is paying attention.
posted by InnocentBystander at 11:11 AM on October 24, 2006 [2 favorites]


You know, seeing this made me think "I should totally register boycottps3.com. But I see someone's beaten me to it.
posted by reklaw at 11:15 AM on October 24, 2006


It's not terribly clear in the press release, but from comments on their forums it seems Lik-Sang was forced into bankruptcy to pay for the legal fees from Sony's lawsuits. So they won't be shipping anything.

As mentioned in Sony's response (linked above), Lik-Sang had no legal fees (they didn't send representation) and they haven't paid the damages.

So again, why were they forced into bankruptcy?

(Sony's still wrong for suing, but Lik-Sang's response is smelling more and more like bullshit.)
posted by Remy at 11:18 AM on October 24, 2006


It used to be charming when Sony would put out proprietary formats that were not compatible with anything else, yet still superior to the alternatives, but since the Rootkit problem, their relentless patching of the PSP when they can't manage to put out any games that are actually fun to play, the consistent lack of industry-standard media support, the aggresive lawyering and the crappy product quality Sony's "quirks" have stopped being charming and are now just offensive.

The thing they don't get is that they have (had) potential customers out there that wanted their products so badly that they were willing to pay a premium and import them. Yet rather than finding a way to sell to those customers Sony has decided that they can just shut down the supplier and their (former) customers will be willing to wait several months until Sony gets around to maybe, possibly, selling them the product they want.

Screw them. Right in the ear. I'll buy a Microsoft product before I buy another Sony product, and for me, that's really saying something.
posted by bshort at 11:22 AM on October 24, 2006


Sony can go eat a bowl of c*cks.
posted by clevershark at 11:49 AM on October 24, 2006


This contrasts entertainingly with Sony's previous assertion that Europeans don't mind waiting for Sony products.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:08 PM on October 24, 2006


One other point worth making:
Recommended US price of PS3 with 60gb hard drive: $599
Recommended UK price of PS3 with 60gb hard drive: $796

Recommended US price of PSP: $249
Recommended UK price of PSP: $335

No wonder those UK Sony execs were buying their product from Lik-Sang.
posted by Hogshead at 12:10 PM on October 24, 2006


Hogshead, two thirds of those price differences go to the UK government as VAT. They should be $599 vs $680-ish and $249 vs $287. And they would have to pay VAT on grey-market imports, so you're not really saving any money.

(Also, UK PS3 pricing hasn't even been announced, so you're whinging about guesswork)
posted by cillit bang at 12:25 PM on October 24, 2006


Oh, like there's no sales tax in the US.
posted by Hogshead at 2:04 PM on October 24, 2006


Oh, like there's no sales tax in the US.

Not if you live in Oregon, no.
posted by linux at 2:10 PM on October 24, 2006


It's worth pointing out that the desire to import isn't just (or even primarily, in a lot of cases) to do with price - Sony in particular are notorious for releasing and allowing other companies to release crippled versions of PS2 games which run up to 16.7% more slowly and have the picture squashed by enormous black borders, for the sake of compatibility with a TV standard (50hz-only PAL) which nobody's TV has required for years. Not everything (see Katamari Damacy) ever even gets released, and often when things do see the light of day over here, we have to wait an absurdly long, completely arbitrary length of time (sometimes upwards of six months) for them.

Despite Sony's vague flailing in the direction of region-free PS3 software, I wouldn't touch unmodified European Sony or Nintendo hardware with an extremely long stick, just in case I ended up stuck with domestic software releases. Microsoft have proved - against many people's expectations - that they're excellent at getting things out quickly and without compromises, but if I can't import, the other two companies have lost a sale.
posted by terpsichoria at 2:20 PM on October 24, 2006


I'm not a lawyer, but the fundamental reason Sony was able to pull this off was trademarks - it's been done before.
Free trade rules within the EU mean that basically anyone can buy anything inside the EU, and sell it on inside the EU, pretty much regardless of copyright or trademarks.

However Lik-sang, being outside the EU, are not so protected. By selling a Sony product with all the Sony trademarks on the boxes, people might be confused that it's coming from an official Sony reseller, i.e. kit 'designed' for the EU market with support from Sony etc. That confusion is what makes it a breach of trademark law in the UK, as the whole point of a trademarks is you know what you're getting, and from who. The UK is often used as the court battleground for EU wide parallel import cases, as it's one of the biggest markets for imported goods, as the prices are often ludicrously higher than either the US or Asia. Combine that with late or non-existant release dates, and you can see why multinationals like Sony want to keep a tight a grip as possible on maintaining the artificially high prices via trade barriers.

CD-WOW was another hong-kong reseller of cheap goods to the UK, with their parallel (i.e. non-licenced by the copyright holder) imports being significantly cheaper than local sellers. They too were shut down, though they did restart up by sourcing from inside the EU.

There have been any number of cases where parallel importers have been shut down, from pharmaceuticals to brand-name clothing to perfume. The US did something similar to Canadian drug imports. That said, Sony do seem to be really really trying to piss off as many customers as possible. The root-kit fiasco was enough to get a temporary ban on purchases from me. I think i'm going to make my boycott much, much longer.

so far, their past actions have cost them over £15k in definite laptop and projector sales from where I work, and they'll be losing out on a PS3 and new HDTV sales from me. I've also been recommending everyone I speak to about laptop purchases (and as an IT admin, that's about 3 people a week) to avoid Sony for months. Surely chicken feed for them, but I bet I'm not the only geek fed up to the back teeth with their anti-customer antics.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:36 PM on October 24, 2006


So again, why were they forced into bankruptcy?

They're not bankrupt, they're just closing Lik-Sang.com. They simply said that they were shutting down the website and not taking any more orders due to pending court actions. Lik-Sang.com is just the online presence of the parent company, Pacific Game Technology Limited. If Sony wants to serve them papers, it's a hell of a lot cheaper for them to close the store and open a new one next door than to actually fight it out in court. In a few weeks PGTL will have a new online presence and set Lik-Sang.com to redirect to it.
posted by junesix at 3:48 PM on October 24, 2006


You all realize that this has everything to do with the bungled PS3 launch, do you?

Because Sony won't be able to have enough consoles by Christmas to achieve the "critical mass" necessary to ensure Blu-Ray's success in all three major markets, it has basically given up Europe in order to concentrate on the two others. Parallel imports to Europe, however, risk diverting enough PS3s from Japan and the US to leave those all-important pre-Christmas Toys-R-Us shelves empty, ensuring that potential buyers buy the Wii or the 360 instead and probably sinking BluRay (Sony execs must be having nasty Betamax flashbacks).

So, Sony has decided to use all its legal guns to stop grey imports, even if in the process it completes alienating its European customers.
posted by Skeptic at 4:17 PM on October 24, 2006


I must add that Lik-Sang's revealing the names of its Sony customers, while amusing, is rather bad form and would be illegal in many countries (definitely in Europe). I certainly wouldn't buy anything from an Internet retailer so cavalier with its customers' privacy.
posted by Skeptic at 4:19 PM on October 24, 2006


I was in a moral quandary with regard to Sony. I don't like their business practices, but I really wanted a PSP. Finally I just bought one used, to ensure the money didn't make it's way back into Sony's pockets. Same with the games I've bought.

It really is a clever device, but not for the reasons they originally made it. I almost never game on it. But it's great for watching videos and reading the web when I don't feel like hauling out my laptop.

It's sad that Sony put me into a position where I have to go out of my way to make sure they don't get money from me. But they brought it on themselves.

To sum up: Used PSPs: Recommended!
The Sony Corporation: Not so much.
posted by quin at 4:31 PM on October 24, 2006


Is this the same Lik Sang who didn't bother showing up in court to defend themselves? The same ones who have not paid a pence in court imposed settlement fees? It sounds like it's owners are grabbing the money and running to me.

Can't wait to get my PS3 in a few weeks! Sony are no more or less evil than any other company that tries to protect it's business.
posted by acetonic at 4:39 PM on October 24, 2006


Oh, like there's no sales tax in the US.

Yes, but in the US sales tax is almost never included in the advertised price, and thus isn't included in Sony's recommended price, so you're comparing the US price before tax with the UK price after tax.
posted by cillit bang at 5:11 PM on October 24, 2006


Fuck Sony. I haven't bought anything Sony in ages, and I steadtfastly refuse to in the future.

Part of it is the business practices - the DRM rootkits, the patches, the iron fist of no fun whatsoever.

But a huge part of it is that for at least 10-15 years Sony has been making the worst designed and built products of any major electronics firm, bar none. The shitty, glued together VAIO laptops that are impossible and/or needlessly expensive to repair. Crappy, overrated, underpowered amps, recievers and decoders. More proprietary formats than you could shake a click-wrap at. The overpriced headphones that looked sweet in the store, but sounded like utter crap when you got them home.

At one point Sony was synonymous with quality, value and innovation. I still have a miniaturized Sony cassette Walkman that was an engineering marvel on par with fine watchmaking, crafted almost entirely out of a dense sandwich of precision tooled metal. It was built almost 20 years ago. I've seen 25-30 year old Sony BetaMax/SP decks chugging away in video editing studios.

But I'm not so sure anymore. Maybe their media industry gear is still adequete, but if has suffered even a fraction of the quality hit that their consumer gear has, probably not.

So, fuck Sony. Thanks for the Walkman, but it's mighty depressing to watch you screw the pooch so vigorously.
posted by loquacious at 10:32 PM on October 24, 2006


I'm with loquacious. The current stuff is interesting, but I stopped buying Sony stuff about 6 or 7 years ago. It just seemed like all the stuff I bought from them seemed great in the shop but ended up being needlessly arse after you'd actually used it for a month or so. I friend came to the exact same decision independently at about the same time.

Every time I see a Sony product that I think looks sweet I just remind myself that they always end up disappointing and I walk away.
posted by markr at 2:24 AM on October 25, 2006


The bottom line for me is that no matter what games come out for it, I am not paying that much for a system. I bought my PS2 and Xbox after they were under $200. I might buy a Nintendo Wii at the starting price point, but I doubt I will ever own a PS3. I dislike almost everything about the system and I really hope it crashes and burns in a major way.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 8:14 AM on October 25, 2006


« Older Green Nazis....  |  Before Hollywood brats got "Pu... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments