Today Was Massive For Sony's PS3

By Colin Tan on March 10, 2011, 9:54PM EDT

Today marks a pretty significant day for Sony Computer Entertainment, and more specifically for the PS3. Not only has Sony triumphed over hackers, for now, retaking the PS3 from No Man's Land with firmware update 3.60, but they've also had the seizure order lifted in regards to a court case between them and rival electronics company LG, enabling Sony to ship PS3s freely in Europe yet again. In addition, PlayStation boss Kazuo Hirai was just promoted to deputy executive president of Sony's consumer business group.

The case against hackers, specifically against George Hotz and hacker group fail0verflow, is still ongoing, with recent reports that the judge had granted Sony's subpoena requests for IP addresses from Hotz's blog, as well as any Google, YouTube and Twitter accounts related to Hotz, allowing the electronics giant to identify anyone who had visited his site since 2009.

While all the court drama has everyone's attention with concerns over privacy raising many an eyebrow, the new PlayStation 3 firmware update has supposedly fixed and effectively retaken PS3s by patching up some security loopholes and cutting off the exposed root key from the equation. Since the root key, published by Hotz earlier this year, was what hackers used to open up the PS3 in the first place, this means that the PS3 is back to being an impenetrable fortress, for the moment.

The battle's far from over, as the firmware has only re-secured the PS3 for now. It's not stopping hackers from finding another way around the bush with the creator of PSFreedom reportedly saying, "For now, it looks to me (at first glance) that the PS3 has been re-secured, but it doesn't mean it can't be broken again from scratch."

All things considered, this is good news for Sony, PlayStation, and all developers out there. Piracy is a huge concern for Sony Computer Entertainment, with the PSP already being a lost cause where games are pirated all over the place. Square Enix's Dissidia: Final Fantasy was reportedly downloaded over five million times as of June last year, resulting in over 30 billion yen in damages. Monster Hunter Freedom Unite saw 2 million illegal downloads and Phantasy Star Portable 2 double that amount.

Piracy and hackers aside, Sony also faced another troubling issue in court with rival electronics company LG filing patent infringements against them. The court had granted LG a prejudgement seizure order, effectively confiscating approximately 300,000 PS3 units in the Netherlands until March 10. The amount is pretty substantial, with more shipments on the way vulnerable to seizure, as all of Sony's European PS3 shipments go through the Netherlands.

It was revealed today that the court order had been lifted, with LG being fined USD$180,000 in legal fees and an additional $275,000 for every day that they fail to pay up. While this only concerns the prejudgement order and not the actual Blu-Ray Disc patents case, it is still good news for Sony, who can now continue shipping and distributing PS3s across Europe.

Sony's lawyer said that they are willing negotiate with LG to settle the patent dispute, as well as all other cases with the company, including a clash with subsidiary, Zenith, over digital TV patents; as well as claims Sony made against LG, alleging that some LG smartphones infringe on Sony patents - "but not with a knife at the throat," supposedly referring to the prejudgement seizure order. The first hearing for the Blu-Ray Disc case is currently scheduled for November 18 this year.

Moreover, with PlayStation's most pressing issues solved for the time being, Sony Corp announced in a press event earlier in the day that PlayStation big boss Kazuo "Kaz" Hirai has been promoted to Deputy Executive President of Sony's consumer business group, where he'll take over responsibilities starting April 1. It was previously rumoured that Kaz was in the running to replace CEO Sir Howard Stringer, and it looks like he's currently in the lead with Stringer praising his performance in regards to leading PlayStation to success: "In his current role, Mr. Hirai has successfully led the turnaround of the games business"¦This is an opportunity for the board to watch Hirai san and judge his performance. There may be other candidates, but he has a leadership position."

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