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Sony files piracy suits

Sony files piracy lawsuits that accuse three companies of hawking counterfeit games and devices for its PlayStation gaming console.

Sony (SNE) has filed piracy lawsuits that accuses three companies of hawking counterfeit games and devices for its PlayStation gaming console.

The federal lawsuits were filed against National Console Support, Video Games Plus in Toronto, and Super Collector.

Sony accuses National Console of selling a device that enabled counterfeit PlayStation games to be played on the Sony gaming console. The Tokyo-based electronics giant is charging that Video Games Plus and Super Collector sold counterfeit PlayStation games in the United States via email and the U.S. Postal Service.

National Console denies the charges. Peter Mui, president of National Console, said his company offers Sony modificiations as a way for their customers to play import video games on their consoles and that the company only sells original PlayStation games.

"Sony is accusing our company of piracy but our reputation on the Internet as a leading importer of video games for the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation would seem at odds with that accusation," Mui said. "Selling import video games is our business, and offering the modification is a way that we are helping U.S.A. customers enjoy import Sony games that might not get released stateside."

Officials from Super Collector said they were not aware of the lawsuit. Representatives of Video Games Plus in Toronto were not reached by deadline.

Riley Russell, legal and business affairs director for Sony Computer Entertainment America, said Sony has the right to sue both the retailer and distributor. Under a change in the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act last August, Sony was able to take advantage of the expanded provisions for pirated intellectual property.

"Before this change, it was not as clear on copyright and trademark infringements," he said.

Russell estimates the three cases represent millions of dollars in lost revenue to Sony. The company is seeking an injuction to prevent further distribution of the products in question.

Sony said it discovered the alleged pirating not long after the debut of the PlayStation last September.

"In early February and March, we started to see counterfeit goods. Our employees began to notice this more and more, so in May we began an investigation," Russell said.

He cited one case where a bootleg game hit the market a few days before Sony released PlayStation. Counterfeit PlayStation games have a silver or gold bottom on the CD-ROM, whereas Sony has developed a process to make games with a black bottom.