French court declares DS flash cards illegal
The sale of flash cards used for playing pirated games on Nintendo's DS handheld has finally been ruled illegal in France.
The decision last week by the Court Of Appeals in Paris, the second-highest tier of the French legal system, brings down the curtain on a legal battle stretching back for almost four years.
Divineo Sarl and five other companies were found guilty of the import, sale and distribution of flash cards – known in France as linkers – fined over €460,000 (£398,658) and told to pay damages in excess of €4.8 million (£4.2 million) to Nintendo.
Stephan Bole, managing director of Nintendo France, said: "Nintendo supported this criminal action not only for the company's sake, but for the interests of its game developer partners who expect the highest standards and integrity from products bearing the Nintendo name."
The case began in December 2007 when French police raided premises across the country and seized several thousand DS flash cards. In December 2009, a French court backed Divineo, ruling that Nintendo was "illegally" protecting its system by locking out would-be developers who should be allowed to create their own homebrew applications for the console without censure.
Nintendo appealed the decision, citing a Hong Kong court in 2008 which ruled against Divineo and ordered it to pay Nintendo €44.6 million in damages. That appeal has finally succeeded, and Nintendo notes that it brings France into line with the likes of Germany, Italy, the UK, Netherlands and Belgium, which have also declared the devices illegal.
Divineo was also found guilty of trafficking mod chips and software that enabled piracy on PlayStation 2, and was fined $9.5 million by a California court in 2006.