Frequently Asked Questions

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is any innovation, commercial or artistic, or any unique name, symbol, logo or design used commercially. Intellectual property is protected by:

  • Copyrights on music, videos, patterns and other forms of expression
  • Trademarks on branding devices
  • Patents on inventions

Nintendo owns the intellectual property rights for its products, which include copyrights, trademarks, and patents.

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What is a Copyright?

A copyright is an exclusive right granted to an author of a literary, musical, audiovisual or artistic work, giving the author the sole right to reproduce and distribute that work. There are several different types of copyrights that are associated with Nintendo's products. These include various copyrights in Nintendo's software source code, executable code, game visual display, game music, game characters, product packaging, game manuals and labels, hardware chip microcode, artwork and publications.

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What are Trademarks?

Trademarks are the distinctive names, words, logos, designs and symbols used to distinguish a product of a particular manufacturer or source. Some of Nintendo's most widely recognized trademarks include Nintendo®, Wii™, Nintendo DS™, Nintendo DSi™, Game Boy™, Pokémon™, Super Mario Bros.™, and The Legend of Zelda™. The Nintendo trademark has been filed in many countries throughout the world and registrations have been issued in Nintendo's name in many countries.

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What is Nintendo's official stance on video game piracy?

Video game piracy is illegal. Nintendo opposes those who benefit and trade off of the creative work of game developers, artists, animators, musicians, motion-capture artists and others. Piracy continues to be a significant threat to Nintendo's business, as well as to the businesses of more than 1,400 game-development companies that work to provide games for Nintendo systems. Most importantly, game developers and publishers, particularly the smaller ones, depend on the legitimate sales of their games in order to survive. Piracy discourages innovation and new game development, which ultimately impacts the consumer.

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What is Nintendo doing to curb piracy globally?

Nintendo has anti-piracy programs in more than 40 countries and takes a multi-faceted approach to combat it, combining 1) legal enforcement & monitoring, 2) consumer education, 3) technology innovation and 4)improved IP legislation.

  • Nintendo works closely with domestic and international enforcement authorities and Internet-monitoring agencies to curtail the spread of piracy and to demonstrate that the consequences for this illegal activity are real.
  • Nintendo continues efforts to educate customs and law-enforcement authorities on how to detect counterfeit products and infringing devices.
  • Nintendo offers legal game content online, such as the Nintendo DSiWare™, WiiWare™, and Virtual Console™ with hundreds of games.
  • Nintendo works with international government officials to seek their assistance and cooperation in combating video game piracy together.

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What are Nintendo's top-priority challenges?

Nintendo's top-priority piracy challenges include various forms of video game piracy, including illegally uploaded and/or downloaded game files via the Internet; online companies that sell counterfeit Nintendo products or infringing devices used to play illegal games; and large-scale manufacturers of counterfeit products for sale.

Are infringing devices such as game copiers for Nintendo Handheld systems or mod chips for Nintendo Wii console illegal in the U.S.?

Yes. Game copiers that are used to copy video game software without authorization onto any type of memory device or the hard drive of a personal computer are illegal. They enable the user to make, play and distribute illegal copies of video game software, which violates Nintendo's copyrights and trademarks. Mod chips are also designed to circumvent the copy-protection security system and deem the detection process inoperable, enabling the console to play pirated or illegal copies of Nintendo games downloaded from the Internet. Based upon the functions of these devices, they are illegal.

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Could I be prosecuted if I download content for Nintendo handheld system using a game copier?

Yes. Downloading, playing and distributing illegal software that violates intellectual property rights is against the law. Law-enforcement authorities pursue those involved in Internet piracy and those distributing game copiers. Nintendo has supported numerous criminal actions to combat the sale of the game copiers and internet piracy on a global scale.

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Could downloading games/other content using a game copier/mod chip potentially expose my family to unsuitable content and potential viruses?

Yes. Downloaded, unauthorized content from the Internet may contain viruses that could compromise the Nintendo hardware system. Playing illegal downloaded games requires the system to be modified, either with unauthorized software or the installation of a modification chip or game copier used with the Nintendo Handheld systems. These devices circumvent security protections and can open the device to viruses and other undesirable content.

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What steps can parents take to address piracy with their children?

As with all things, parents are the best defense against their children owning illegal items and participating in illegal activities. We recommend that parents discuss issues of piracy and theft with their children. There are many tips to determine whether a Nintendo product is counterfeit or downloaded illegally. We have provided a list of tips under the How to Detect section and information on how to recognize some of the more common infringing devices on the Internet Piracy page.

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Nintendo DSiWare™, WiiWare™ and Virtual Console™ services represent the only Nintendo content that can be legally downloaded from the Internet. Visit these sites to find legal Nintendo games at www.nintendo.com.

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How do I report potential infringements of Nintendo products?

To report infringing items or other illegal activities, please e-mail us at piracyscene@noa.nintendo.com.

For more information on piracy issues regarding the video game industry, please visit the Entertainment Software Association's website at www.theESA.com.

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