PlayStation 3 modchip lawsuit first of many, says lawyer

The defendants have vowed to fight the Japanese company no matter the cost

Sony's PlayStation 3 mod chip lawsuit could be just the first of many gaming giant-initiated cases in Australia, according to a lawyer who defended a client against Nintendo in a similar case earlier this year.

Late last week Australia's Federal Court slapped a temporary ban -- which expires today -- on a handful of local retailers selling or importing hardware -- commonly known as "mod chips" -- that allows unauthorised software to run on the popular PlayStation 3 console. The court also ordered the chips to be handed over to Sony while the case was running.

The situation echoes a similar case earlier this year, when law firm Berrigan Doube defended a local distributor against a lawsuit by Nintendo, in which the Japanese gaming giant was attempting to stop the retailer from distributing the R4 cartridge, which allows unauthorised applications and games to run on Nintendo's handheld DS console.

The Nintendo case ended in a settlement to Nintendo to the tune of $620,000 without the judge coming to a finding -- and, according to Berrigan Doube director John Cheng, similar cases may go down the same route.

"If history is anything to go by, I envisage many more cases to be settled in favour of the gaming giants before a court is given a proper chance to consider and decide on these highly contentious matters," he said in an emailed statement this afternoon.

In the Sony case, the defendants have vowed to fight the Japanese company no matter the cost.

“This is not OzModChips versus Sony,” wrote retailer OzModChips on its site after Sony won the injunction. “This is not OzModChips, Quantronics, Modsupplier versus Sony. We would go as far as saying that it is not even everyone in Australia versus Sony.”

“This will affect everyone that plans to buy such a device worldwide. It already sets a dangerous precedent. Everyone that was using OtherOS, everyone that has had a faulty PS3 laser … and those interested in PS3 custom firmware and homebrew applications. We cannot do it alone, we need the support of everyone in the homebrew community, the media, engineers that understand the inner workings and anyone else that can provide support.”

Cheng said the defendants would need to have unusually strong backing to take on a company like Sony.

"It will take an extraordinary person to really take the fight to the gaming console companies due to the significant resources required and the personal risks attached to defending the allegations raised against them," he said.

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Renai LeMay

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