Nintendo vs. Game Pirates

Television Digest

April 23, 1990

Nintendo launched international war on retailers, distributors and importers it claims are renting and selling "counterfeit" videogame cartridges for its Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). In lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts in Florida, Los Angeles and Minneapolis and in Federal Court in Ottawa, company claims copyright infringement and seeks injunctions against further sales of copies of its games, as well as unspecified monetary damages. Order authorizing seizure of pirated games already has been issued by Ottawa court, Nintendo said, and more suits in U.S. and Canada are planned within week.

Nintendo said U.S. Customs agents recently arrested 4 persons in Wilmington, North Carolina, for dealing in counterfeit cartridges, including a Taiwanese couple said to be importing games. Agents seized 700 cartridges that were offered to them for $60,000.

Lawsuits claim retailers infringed on Nintendo copyrights by importing, renting and selling cartridges that contain up to 40 different Nintendo and Nintendo–licensed games and require special adapter for use in NES. First legal action was taken against 20 Minneapolis retailers accused of renting unauthorized NES games.

"If a video rental outlet or retailer is renting or selling a multiple game cartridge with an adapter, that cartridge is a counterfeit product," Senior VP Howard Lincoln said. "What's happening here is an outrageous theft of Nintendo's valuable intellectual property rights. Crooks in the Far East have made verbatim copies of legitimate Nintendo videogames and have packaged these counterfeits in multiple game cartridges."

Most fake Nintendo games are about half size of normal Nintendo cartridge and require adapter for use on NES, Lincoln said. He said cartridges and adapters are being made in Taiwan, and said Nintendo is "working closely" with customs to ban further imports of counterfeits. To date, sale and rental of bogus games has been limited to video rental outlets and unauthorized dealers, Lincoln said.

from  HFD—The Weekly Home Furnishings Newspaper
April 23, 1990

REDMOND, WASHINGTON — Nintendo of America Inc. has begun an international campaign against video rental outlets and other retailers, distributors and importers that are renting or selling counterfeit video game cartridges for play on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

The company reported last week that U.S. Customs agents had arrested four people on April 12 in Wilmington, N.C., for dealing in counterfeit Nintendo cartridges. Those arrested included a Taiwanese couple caught bringing counterfeit video games into this country.

Nintendo said its attorneys and investigators had been working for weeks with customs agents in the Wilmington area to seize the counterfeit cartridges. An elaborate undercover sting operation involving hidden cameras, microphones and some $10,000 in marked money was used to apprehend the counterfeiters.

The four arrested persons are Kenn Ketchum and Brad Isom of Florida and Sylvie and Paul Sun of Taiwan. According to Nintendo, each was charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods. Nintendo said that customs agents had seized about 700 counterfeit Nintendo cartridges in the sting. These cartridges were offered to the agents for $60,000. The cartridges were multiple game cartridges containing up to 40 counterfeits of Nintendo and Nintendo licensed video games.

Nintendo said that lawsuits for copyright infringement have already been filed in U.S. District Courts in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Minn., and Florida to halt the sale of counterfeit Nintendo software. A lawsuit also is underway in Federal Court in Ottawa, Canada against defendants located in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, and an order authorizing the seizure of counterfeit Nintendo cartridges has been issued by that court. Additional copyright infringement suits will be filed in other areas of the United States and Canada in the next two weeks.

The lawsuits charge the defendants with willful infringement of Nintendo's copyrights by the importation, rental and sale of multiple game cartridges.

Howard Lincoln, senior vice president of Nintendo, said, "What's happening here is an outrageous theft of Nintendo's valuable intellectual property rights."

Lincoln said that the most common type of counterfeit Nintendo cartridges can readily be identified.

"The cartridges are approximately half the size of legitimate Nintendo cartridges and require an adapter for play on the NES," he said.

Lincoln indicated that Nintendo does not market multiple game cartridges containing 8-in-1, 10-in-1, 20-in-1, or 40-in-1, etc. video games.

"If a video rental outlet or retailer is renting or selling a multiple game cartridge with an adapter, that cartridge is a counterfeit product," said Lincoln.

According to Lincoln, the counterfeit Nintendo cartridges and adapters are being manufactured in Taiwan.

"Nintendo is working closely with U.S. Customers inspectors at ports of entry around the country to ban the importation of these counterfeit cartridges and to seize and destroy any incoming shipments," he said.

Nintendo indicated that multiple game cartridges and other counterfeit cartridges have not been found in authorized Nintendo dealer locations and World of Nintendo outlets.