Nintendo haul just normal business, says Customs

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The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service yesterday said the seizure of a number of R4 cartridges which allow piracy on Nintendo’s DS and DSi handheld consoles was just part of normal business for the agency.

The legality of selling the device in Australia is currently up in the air, due to the fact that Nintendo recently took legal action against RSJ IT Solutions, a retailer which operates the GadgetGear.com.au website and had been selling the R4 cartridges.

However the video game manufacturer settled out of court with RSJ, leading to the defendant’s law firm to claim no precedent had been set.

Asked yesterday to comment on its view of illegality of the R4 devices — which were seized along with other assets for a total reported value of $1.3 million — Customs said it had seized the good under the the Notice of Objection Scheme in the Trade Marks Act 1995, which it commonly used.

“On 29 January 2010, Customs and Border Protection seized approximately 150 items suspected of infringing Nintendo’s trade marks,” a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement.

“In accordance with this Scheme, the importer agreed to forfeit these items to Customs and Border Protection. Customs and Border Protection will dispose of these forfeited items.”

“The decision to take legal action is made by the registered objector. The court will determine any penalties that would be imposed.”

The agency said it had worked with industry to build a better understanding of the scheme over the past few years, which had resulted in “a steady increase” in the number of intellectual property noticed of objection in force.

“During 2008-09 we made 2,158 seizures of suspected counterfeit or pirated goods, comprising a total of 794,580 items with a total retail value of over $11 million,” the agency said.

Customs’ statement echoes a statement by Nintendo yesterday that the agency “regularly” detects counterfeit Nintendo products such as games and controllers hitting Australian shores. “Customs regularly contact us to advise that they have detected in particular counterfeit Nintendo products being shipped into Australia,” said a Nintendo spokesperson in an emailed statement.

They generally forward photos of the products and ask us to determine whether they are counterfeit and if so, whether they want the products seized.” Customs will then send a seizure notice to the importer of the goods, the spokesperson said, who can object to the seizure. “However, this has (to Nintendo‚Äôs knowledge) never occurred,” they said of possible objections.

Image credit: R4

2 COMMENTS

  1. I think it’s worth asking the question why Nintendo is suddenly so proactive about cracking down on pirates? (Or at least putting so many media releases out about it)

    Is it because Nintendo’s revenue from the Wii has dried up because of the slow release of new games? Or is it because people realise the Wii is basically a one-trick pony (although it’s a very good trick)?

    All I know is that Nintendo only started to push this message after Wii sales dropped, revenues plummeted and coverage turned negative.

    Come on Renai, do some digging. :)

    • I’ll look into it. I suspect from prior experience with multinationals that it’s a global push which has been handed down from head office in Japan, rather than a strong local push.

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