A lawsuit has been filed by Nintendo of America against the alleged leader of an international video game piracy group.
Canadian national Gary Bowser was arrested in October last year on suspicion of heading a criminal enterprise called Team Xecuter that the United States Department of Justice said created and sold illegal hacking devices.
The circumvention devices enabled users to hack popular video game consoles, including the Nintendo Switch, the Nintendo 3DS, and the Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition, so they could be used to play unauthorized, or pirated, copies of authentic gaming titles.
Bowser and his alleged co-conspirator, Frenchman Max Louarn, were each charged with 11 felony counts, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to circumvent technological measures and to traffic in circumvention devices, trafficking in circumvention devices, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Charges were filed by Nintendo of America’s president, Doug Bowser, against Gary Bowser in a western Seattle District Court on Friday, April 16, in what Mario enthusiasts might call a real-life Battle of Bowsers.
In the suit, Gary Bowser is accused of running a “pirate operation” that infringed Nintendo’s copyright by creating and selling hacks.
Nintendo alleges that Bowser “has been a leader in the hacking and piracy community targeting Nintendo’s intellectual property more broadly for many years” and “has trafficked in circumvention devices and helped facilitate infringement of Nintendo video games not only on the Nintendo Switch, but also on earlier consoles, including the Nintendo DS, released in 2004, the Wii, released in 2006, and the Nintendo 3DS, released in 2011.”
In May last year, Nintendo filed two intellectual property complaints in US courts against online stores selling Team Xecuter devices, which the gaming company said violated the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
The first complaint, against a site called UberChips, was settled in October with a $2m payment, though UberChips’ owner denied any wrongdoing. UberChips was ordered by an Ohio court to destroy its stock of circumvention devices and give Nintendo its domain name.
The second lawsuit was filed in Washington against eight different stores that Nintendo said were selling circumvention devices.