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Sony denies seeking PSP customer data

Company says it's targeting "gray market" sellers rather than consumers to squelch unauthorized sales in the U.K.

Sony is dismissing news reports that it's asking online stores for customer information to track shipments of the company's PlayStation Portable game console in the United Kingdom.

Published reports out of Britain suggest that Sony is using the knowledge to confiscate any unauthorized product being shipped to consumers before the official launch date of Sept. 1.

Sony's president of consumer sales, Stan Glasgow, told CNET News.com that rather than targeting customers, the company is going to court on Monday to ask for an injunction against companies that participate in the underground market for the devices, sometimes referred to as the "gray market."

"We are fully aware of the gray market situation and we are trying to address the problem," Glasgow said, "but I seriously doubt that Sony would pursue any criminal action against individuals. It's just something that we wouldn't do."

Sony is getting firm with online retailers that participate in what it calls "parallel importing" of PSP products from the U.S. and Japan. Sony president David Reeves told Gamesindustry.biz that the company sent more than 600 letters asking individuals and companies to stop selling import PSP devices on eBay.

The PSP, a $249.99 portable console for playing video games and movies, is already on sale in Japan and the United States. Shipments into the United Kingdom were delayed by about six months to make sure the company had enough for its U.S. launch.

U.K. customers clamoring for the $249.99 consoles have been turning to online retailers to fulfill their gaming desires, often paying a $100 premium to get their hands on one.

Glasgow responded to the reports during a stop in San Francisco on Friday. Sony executives are scouring the globe touting the company's upcoming product sales strategy, of which the PlayStation Portable is a key element. Incoming Sony CEO Howard Stringer told shareholders in Tokyo on Wednesday that the company is planning its new-product unveiling for late September.