Toshiba, the Japanese industrial titan, is set to unleash a body blow against its domestic rival Sony by suing the beleaguered electronics maker for damages to its brand image over the exploding laptop battery debacle.
Analysts fear that the aggressive move may trigger similar gambits by other PC-makers affected by the gobal recall of what will probably total eight million Sony-built lithium-ion batteries. Other compaines that have ordered battery recalls include Japanese giants Fujitsu and Sharp, and US industry Dell and Apple.
Toshiba is already recalling about 830,00 laptop that contain the allegedly dangerous batteries, which have reportedly burst into flames a number of times, in PCs made by different manufacturers.
Neither Toshiba nor Fujitsu - another Japanese company is likely to demand compensation - has ever reported a case of a Sony Battery combusting in one of its laptops, but it initated the recalls "to calm customers'fears".
Sony has previously said that it will shoulder the substantial cost of the recalls by all PC makers that have announced such measures. Some analysts predict that the full blow to Sony could be more than 40 billion yen (£180 million).
But Toshiba is planning to take matters further , claiming that customers who bought its laptops might not relise that the battery fault is Sony's, leaving the Toshiba brand tainted by the recall. The response wil be a demand for compensation, and may take the form of a damages lawsuit - a relative rarity in corporate Japan.
Leaks to Japanese media by Toshiba exceutives suggest that the company has received complaints from customers as a result of the battery recall, and that it had "no choice but to seek compensation for lost sales opportunities and a decline in the value of our brand."