Nintendo seeks US trade sanctions to fight piracy
China, Paraguay, Mexico
Following the seizure of over a quarter of a million pirated Game Boy Advance software units in China last month, Nintendo of America is lobbying for trade sanctions to help it bring organised large-scale piracy under control.
The company's efforts are particularly aimed at China, Paraguay and Mexico, which it says are the main sources of pirate materials. According to Nintendo, these huge counterfeiting operations cost it $650 million in lost sales last year.
The manufacture of pirated games - particularly for cartridge-based systems like the Game Boy Advance - is huge business in China, with over a million units of software being confiscated there last year from 135 separate facilities. Paraguay is seen as a key shipment point for the distribution of pirated games in the western hemisphere, while Mexico is targeted for its lax attitude to the sale of pirate software.
It has been claimed that the pirate software market may be financing terrorism, with US news sources in recent years suggesting links between Paraguayan counterfeiting operations and Middle Eastern terrorist group Hezbollah. Almost 4.5 million units of fake Nintendo software have been seized in Paraguay since a bilateral trade agreement was signed in 1998.
Interestingly, Nintendo also lists the European Union among the regions in which it is concerned for its intellectual property rights, alongside Chile, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Venezuela. We're not sure whether this is a genuine concern over piracy, or simple posturing over the thriving European grey import market, which Nintendo would very much like to see shut down.