Cablegate: Taiwan Customs Playing Nintendo's Game

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) Summary: In response to a request for equipment for
use by Taiwan Customs to detect shipments of counterfeit
entertainment software, Nintendo North America (NA) provided
16 Nintendo game systems to be used by Customs officials at
Chiang Kai-Shek (CKS) International Airport. The donated
game systems covered every type of existing Nintendo game
currently in production. Nintendo NA's Taiwan
representative, Arthur Shay, from the Taipei law-firm
EliteLaw, delivered a 60 minute training session on August 5
to approximately 20 Taiwan Customs officials. The session
focused on how to use the game systems to identify
counterfeit game cartridges. Officials were less interested
in learning how to use the game equipment than in the proper
standard operating procedures if the results of their
inspections were inconclusive. Shay committed to personally
inspect any product that was of dubious origin and if still
uncertain to forward it to Nintendo NA for additional
inspection. End Summary.

2. (U) Nintendo NA was the most vocal opponent of Taiwan's
decision to abolish its Export Monitoring System (EMS) on
January 1, 2005. With only one seizure in the previous three
years, Taiwan's Intellectual Property Office (TIPO) believed
the EMS' annual US$1 million budget could be better spent
supporting additional efforts to control internet piracy and
proposed transferring the responsibility to monitor Taiwan
exports of computer game software and hardware to Taiwan
Customs. Nintendo NA was concerned that Taiwan Customs
lacked the training and dedication to effectively prevent
export or transshipment of counterfeit Nintendo products.
Nintendo NA was particularly concerned that Taiwan Customs
had declined to take custody of equipment used by EMS to
inspect suspect counterfeit goods. For its part, Taiwan
Customs officials complained that the EMS equipment was
cumbersome to use and out of date. In March 2005, Nintendo
agreed to provide training as needed for Taiwan Customs
officials as well as 8 new hand-held testing devices.
Training took place at the end of March, but the promised
equipment was slow to arrive.

3. (U) After meeting with AIT Econoff at Nintendo NA
headquarters in Redmond, Washington, in mid-May, Nintendo NA
finally supplied 16 games systems for use by Taiwan Customs.
EliteLaw partner Arthur Shay conducted a training session for
approximately 20 Customs officials on August 5 at the CKS
Airport Customs offices. Participants were instructed on
physical and software security features of genuine Nintendo
products and given demonstrations of tell-tale signs of fake

4. (U) Participants were less interested in the game systems
than they were in establishing the proper standard operating
procedure when they were unable to determine from visual
inspection whether the goods in question were genuine. Shay
volunteered that he or his staff would be available at any
time to assist in determining whether a product was
counterfeit and if unable to make a determination, would
immediately forward the sample in question to Nintendo NA
headquarters for verification.

5. (U) Comment: Nintendo NA's delivery of this equipment
should help to improve relations between the company and
officials, testy after months of Nintendo complaints about
Customs efficiency and dedication, and may even help Taiwan
Customs to better detect counterfeit Nintendo products. But
this equipment does nothing to assist officials in
determining the authenticity of partially assembled circuit
boards and chip assemblies, the latest technique favored by
producers of counterfeit games. Nintendo NA is aware of this
new form of evading detection, but to date has no answers for
those trying to counter the counterfeiters. In this game,
law enforcement is still playing from behind. End Comment.

© Scoop Media

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