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Game site back, sans mod chips

A Hong Kong video game retailer dusts itself off and climbs back online after a legal scuffle with Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony.

A Hong Kong video game retailer that ran into legal hot water with Microsoft is back in business, minus the hacking tools that got it in trouble.

The Web site for Lik-Sang was working again Tuesday morning, after being shut down for more than three weeks.

Lik-Sang was one of the world's leading suppliers of "mod chips," add-ons for game consoles that defeat security systems in the machines, allowing them to play legally and illegally copied game discs, play import games and run homemade software.

A message on the Lik-Sang site blamed the shutdown on a lawsuit filed last month in the High Court of Hong Kong by game console makers Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony. The suit claimed copyright infringements relating to mod chips and other development and backup devices for the game machines.

Lik-Sang said it was abiding by a court injunction forbidding it from selling or advertising the disputed devices, which include mod chips for Sony's PlayStation 2 and Microsoft's Xbox and backup tools for Nintendo's Game Boy Advance handheld player.

Lik-Sang said that outstanding orders for mod chips and other disputed devices would be canceled and customers would receive refunds, while orders for other goods would be processed as soon as possible.

David Foster, a British graphics designer, said he was still waiting to hear on the status of his order for two Japanese PlayStation 2 games.

"I found out by chance that the Web site was up," he said. "All my details on the site are correct, and my outstanding order is there. I can click to continue it if I want to."

Lik-Sang representatives responded to questions from CNET with a form letter similar to the notice on the site, which did not detail the company's plans.

"Lik-Sang International Limited has always sold the products in question with the legitimate use in mind, and the products haven't been considered as illegal," the statement said. "However, Lik-Sang is not committed on selling the questioned products in the future."

A Microsoft representative from the company's Asian headquarters confirmed earlier that the company had taken legal action against Lik-Sang but did not provide details. Sony and Nintendo representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Game console makers have been fighting mod chips for years, with Sony and Microsoft lately pursuing a variety of legal and engineering tactics to thwart the devices.