The PlayStation 5 is an ugly machine. Thankfully, the hideous white plates flanking either side of the gaming console come off and there are several companies that sell variations on Sony’s white, default theme. One of those companies is Dbrand, which is so confident it can sell these plates it threatened Sony to sue it if it thought otherwise. Sony obliged, and threatened to sue Dbrand, which prompted the company to delist its product.
But now Dbrand is back with a new design and a middle finger for the console manufacturer. Its reasoning is that Sony could threaten to sue because it has patented the PS5 plates, but Dbrand has now altered that design in a way that would allow it to bypass that patent.
The drama started in February when Dbrand unveiled matte black replacement plates for the PlayStation 5. Console owners across the world loved the PlayStation 5 but some hated the startlingly white faceplates. They make the console stand out no matter where you put it, and stain easily. Consumers wanted something darker to make the console look cooler and blend in with the rest of their audio-visual equipment.
Dbrand launched its Darkplates with advertising that taunted Sony and begged the media giant to sue Dbrand. “When you look at this microscopic texture inside the Darkplates, what do you see?” Advertising for the original Darkplates said. “If your answer is ‘a familiar-but-legally-distinct apocalyptic spin on the classic PlayStation button shapes,’ you might be one of our lawyers.”
Sony threatened Dbrand with legal action and the sideplate maker pulled the Darkplates from its store. “We've elected to submit to the terrorists' demands… for now,” Dbrand said on its subreddit. Sony has a habit of going after companies that manufacture accessories for the PlayStation 5. It threatened another custom sideplate maker with legal action in November, 2020. The company rebranded itself and relaunched a few months later.
According to a post by Dbrand on its subreddit, Sony didn’t have a legal leg to stand on for months. “The reality of this Darkplates dispute is quite simple,” it said. “You can’t successfully sue someone over an alleged ‘design infringement’ without a registered design patent. Sony did not have a registered design patent for the PS5’s side panels when we launched Darkplates (or for many, many months following the release). We didn’t think they’d ever get one. They did. Here we are.”
Now that Sony has patented the design of the sideplates, however, Dbrand thinks it can officially launch a brand new design that’s legally distinct from Sony’s patent. “By creating a brand new design, Darkplates 2.0 successfully closes the loop on this dispute and neutralizes any future infringement claims from Sony,” it said. “More importantly: it makes your PlayStation 5 considerably less ugly.”
What’s the biggest difference? Darkplates 2.0 has holes to vent the large 120mm intake fan on the PlayStation 5 that’s covered by the sideplate in the base model. “Why is this important? Let’s put it this way: if that intake fan was a set of lungs, the plates you have now are in prison for suffocating your PS5,” Dbrand said. “Luckily for us, ‘adding vents’ is yet another way to distinguish our plate design from Sony's.”
Dbrand is taking pre-orders on the Darkplates 2.0 right now. They start at $69.00.
Sony did not return Waypont’s request for comment.