Faulty batteries produced by Sony, similar to those that this week caused Dell to initiate the biggest recall in consumer electronics history, could be present in laptops produced by other companies. Other portable electronics products could be affected, too.

The Dell recall of 4.1 million batteries was ordered after the computer maker received reports from customers of laptops overheating and catching fire. An investigation led to the discovery of a problem in the battery cell manufacturing process.

"Under certain rare conditions there is an elevated risk that the battery may overheat or catch fire as a result of the presence of metallic particles in a critical area of the battery cell," said Takashi Uehara, a spokesman for Sony in Tokyo.

The cells in question were produced between January 2004 and February 2006 at Sony Energy Tech in Japan and were sold by Sony to Dell and other companies. Sony wouldn't name the other companies citing confidentiality agreements. It acknowledged that some of the cells have been used in batteries inside its own Vaio laptop computers but that the company is not issuing a recall for those.