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Nintendo Whoops Lik Sang's Ass

by Thomas on June 19, 2003 @ 7:39 a.m. PDT

Nintendo was awarded an interim payment of $641,000 in a Game Boy copying case, with final damages yet to be determined. In one of Nintendo's most significant anti-piracy judgments ever, the High Court of Hong Kong ruled against Lik Sang International Limited, worldwide distributor of game copying devices capable of widespread counterfeiting of Game Boy software. In the recent decision, William Waung, Judge of the Court of First Instance, High Court, ruled in favor of Nintendo Co. Ltd and Nintendo of America Inc. against defendants Lik Sang International Limited and Visoly Limited, and their principals, Ahlswede Nils and Alexander Peter Kampl. Judge Waung ordered an interim payment of HK$5 million (US$641,000) be paid to Nintendo and further ordered them to pay Nintendo's legal expenses. The amount of actual damages will be awarded at a later hearing.

The basis of the court's ruling is a local copyright law preventing people from selling video game copying devices used to make illegal games that are then sold worldwide, further deepening the piracy epidemic.

Hong Kong copyright law is directed not at the person who made unlawful copy but the person/s who furnished the means to make the illegal copying occur. By analogy, "With drugs, it is not aimed at the drug addict but at the drug trafficker," noted Judge Waung in the judgment. "I have no doubt that the reason they sell like hotcakes is because they delivered the means whereby a person would be able to steal the games of the plaintiffs (Nintendo) housed inside the Game Boy cartridge of the plaintiffs and then illegally put the stolen games into the defendants' Flash Card."

The recent judgment comes as a direct result of a civil action Nintendo initiated against Lik Sang International Limited last fall. Nintendo was granted a seizure order on September 17, 2002 by the High Court of Hong Kong. Hong Kong courts have since given Nintendo authority to confiscate all offending products and related business documentation that could lead to further lawsuits against offending manufacturers and distributors. Nintendo obtained an injunction order against the worldwide assets of Lik Sang International Limited including a seizure of its bank accounts. Following the raid, Lik Sang International Limited ceased distribution of the illegal products.

"These devices have been distributed to at least 30 countries around the world. Nintendo will take all steps necessary to stop the manufacturing and distribution of counterfeit Nintendo products," says Jodi Daugherty, director of anti-piracy for Nintendo of America Inc. "Nintendo has the best game developers in the world. They have spent years developing unique and creative games. Their respective efforts deserve to be protected and respected, not stolen."

Worldwide piracy is estimated to have cost the United States entertainment software industry more than $3 billion in 2002. In 2002, Nintendo, together with its publishers and developers, suffered nearly $650 million in lost sales as a result of the illegal copying of Nintendo products.

The worldwide leader and innovator in the creation of interactive entertainment, Nintendo Co., Ltd., of Kyoto, Japan, manufactures and markets hardware and software for its popular home and portable video game systems. Each year, hundreds of all-new titles for the best-selling Game Boy® Advance and Nintendo GameCubeTM systems extend Nintendo's vast game library and continue the tradition of delivering a rich, diverse mix of quality video games for players of all ages.

Since the release of its first home video game system in 1983, Nintendo has sold more than 1.8 billion video games globally, creating enduring industry icons such as MarioTM and Donkey Kong® and launching popular culture franchise phenomena such as MetroidTM, ZeldaTM and Pokémon®. A wholly owned subsidiary, Nintendo of America Inc., based in Redmond, Wash., serves as headquarters for Nintendo's operations in the Western Hemisphere.

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