The Sony PlayStation 3 's IBM-built Cell processor infringes a 1991 hardware patent and all existing units should be impounded and destroyed. That's according to a complaint filed against Sony which alleges that the PS3 Cell processor infringes US patent number 5,056,000.

If the complaint is upheld, Sony could amazingly be forced to destroy all its Cell processors and to redesign the PlayStation 3 from the ground up.

The lawsuit was filed by US company Parallel Processing which says its patent, "Synchronized Parallel Processing with Shared Memory" was issued in October of 1991. The patent explains how new processor architecture could break a program "into smaller concurrent processes running in different parallel processors," and then resynchronize them. This would make processing times much quicker.

"On information and belief, Defendant Sony Corporation of America has infringed and continues to infringe on the '000 Patent by making, using, importing, offering for sale and/or selling products among other things, covered by one or more claims of the '000 Patent, including, but not limited to, Sony Playstation 3," states Parallel Processing in the lawsuit.

PS3 in more hot water

It says that Sony's infringement of its patent has caused it irreparable harm and monetary damage.

Parallel Processing wants all PlayStation 3 consoles which use the Cell processor (that would be all of them) to be impounded and destroyed. It also wants Sony to say sorry, and to reimburse all the money it claims to have lost.

Of course, it's extremely unlikely that Sony will be forced to do any of those things, but it's certainly something to keep an eye on.