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Sony recalls battery packs

The consumer electronics giant recalls 415,000 battery packs used in DVD players, camcorders, digital cameras and other devices, the latest in a string of unexpected setbacks for the company.

Consumer electronics giant Sony has recalled 415,000 battery packs used in DVD players, camcorders, digital cameras and other devices.

The recall follows the discovery of three defective battery packs in Japan and Germany. A malfunctioning welding machine cracked some battery cells during manufacturing, causing them to overheat or smoke when recharged, according to the company.

Sony is recalling about 415,000 InfoLithium battery packs distributed worldwide--160,000 in the United States--manufactured between March and June 1999.

Potentially defective battery models are InfoLithium NP-F750 and NP-550, which were sold at retail and bundled with some Sony consumer devices, such as the UPX-2000 video printer and accessory kit and DSC-D700 Cyber-shot Pro digital camera. Sony sells the rechargeable batteries for use in its Handyman camcorders, Mavica digital cameras and portable DVD players, among other devices.

Today's recall caps off a month of unexpected setbacks for Sony. Earlier this month, an appeals court struck down a preliminary injunction against San Mateo, Calif.-based Connectix, which had developed a software program that could run games designed for Sony's PlayStation on Apple Macintosh systems.

Sony also irked some consumers after announcing some existing PlayStation games would not run on PlayStation2, which is expected to start shipping next month in Japan and later this year in the United States.

On Jan. 31, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging Sony's music division tried to strong-arm retailers into pointing customers to Sony's online shops.

On the financial front, the picture is clearer for Sony. The company reported better-than-expected third-quarter revenue last month, following a turnaround in its consumer electronics division. Profits fell 17 percent to $884 million vs. an expected drop of 35 percent.