Friday 5th December, 2008/... Fake games consoles and adaptors are potentially putting Christmas consumers’ lives in danger, HM Revenue&Customs (HMRC) warned today. Hundreds of imported counterfeit games consoles seized at UK freight depots were found to have been supplied with potentially dangerous power adaptors. The goods had been purchased from a range of websites, mainly based in Asia, which claimed the items were "genuine Nintendo products." Many of the consoles, which are fake versions of the popular Nintendo DS and DS Lite had been bought for around£40, instead of the usual retail price of£100.
Nintendo confirmed that the Nintendo DS and DS Lite consoles were counterfeit, and the power adaptors being supplied with the product were not Nintendo manufactured and were, in fact, potentially dangerous, since they had not been electronically tested and do not meet strict UK safety standards.
HMRC’s Head of Intellectual Property rights Pamela Rogers said:
"UK consumers must be vigilant when purchasing goods online. Buy from a reputable or regulated site and, if purchasing from outside the UK or a new website, research the site– check all the facts before you buy.
"At best, these consoles would have led to disappointment on Christmas morning; at worst, they could have caused serious harm or injury.
"Counterfeit goods also cause considerable damage the UK economy by undermining genuine UK retailers and small businesses who are honest and abide by the rules."
Mike Rawlinson, managing director for the trade body of the UK game’s industry ELSPA (the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association), comments: "We are asking all concerned parents to be diligent– often when a bargain seems too good to be true it actually is. We would also like to thank HMRC for their role in swiftly alerting all UK ports to be on their guard for similar counterfeit goods coming into the country. As a responsible industry we are also extremely committed to ending the damaging counterfeit games market, which not only defrauds UK tax payers with inferior products but in some cases actually puts children’s lives at risk too. This is an issue that affects all retail businesses, particularly at Christmas, and more needs to be done to work together to mitigate the risks posed by fake goods. We are also continuing to work very closely with Trading Standards Officers on this important safety issue and we also want to thank them for their diligence."
Notes to Editors
1. Officers from UKBA and HMRC have the right to detain imported goods which they believe to be counterfeit and if they are confirmed as such by the intellectual property rights owner– the goods are usually seized and then destroyed. This means that the customer who has purchased the items– whether they were aware of the items lack of authenticity or not– will not receive the item. Customers may also have to pay import duty and VAT on certain items before they can be delivered.
2. UKBA and HM Revenue&Customs work closely with manufacturers and with local trading standards teams to help deal with the continuing problem of imported counterfeit goods, as intellectual property crime is a serious economic threat in the United Kingdom (UK). It is considered a serious threat to safety of consumers and it is estimated that this type of crime costs the UK economy around GBP£9 billion each year (source: www.ipo.gov.uk )
3. About ELSPA
ELSPA (The Entertainment&Leisure Software Publishers Association) was founded in 1989 to establish a specific and collective identity for the computer and video games industry. Membership includes almost all companies involved with the publishing and distribution of interactive leisure software in the UK. ELSPA’s activities include: Official Chart and Industry Reports, Events, PR and Communication, Public Affairs and Anti-Piracy issues both in the UK and across the EU. More information on all these activities can be found at http://www.elspa.com.
4. About PEGI
The Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) age rating system was established in 2003 to help European parents make informed decisions on buying interactive games. Designed to ensure that minors are not exposed to games that are unsuitable for their particular age group, the system is supported by the major console manufacturers, including Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, as well as by publishers and developers of interactive games throughout Europe. The age rating system has been developed by the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE) and has the enthusiastic support of the European Commission, which considers the new system to be a model of European harmonisation in the field of the protection of children. PEGI applies to products distributed in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
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