Booker Zhang is an IPilogue Writer and a 1L JD Candidate at the University of Manitoba.
Sony’s PlayStation 5 (PS5) has been consistently out of stock worldwide since its 2020 release. This situation results from the global chip shortage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and unkind scalpers. But have you heard about GS5? A YouTube video unboxing this counterfeit console has attracted almost 8 million views.
The GS5’s official name is GameStation 5. It is a video game console with basically the same look and design as a PS5—even the box looks exceptionally similar. The difference is that the GS5 is much cheaper and smaller and can only support 8-bit games. There is also no need to buy games as it has a built-in game system for over 200 games. However, even the games are counterfeit. In Donkey Kong, the player is a panda. In another game called Somari, the gamer plays Mario in a Sonic game. Overall, GS5 is an entirely counterfeit video game console that steals Sony’s design and modifies Nintendo’s games. Nothing of GS5 is original. Imagine how many copyright and trademark infringements GS5 may have invoked.
Counterfeit game consoles date back to the 1970s. Even Nintendo made a video game console named Color TV Game 6, highly similar to Atari’s Home Pong. However, game console companies have never stopped fighting for their legal rights. In 2011, Atari filed a copyright lawsuit against Tommo, a wholesaler, for importing bootleg versions of its Flashback 2 plug-and-play console to sell to unsuspecting consumers in the US. Atari was seeking over $30 million in damages. In a more recent case, an American rapper DeAndre Cortez Way, better known as Soulja Boy, announced his game consoles with 3000 built-in games and sold over 5 million units. He eventually removed all consoles from stores because of a Nintendo copyright action.
Consumers can easily find similar products online due to the booming international e-commerce market. On Aliexpress, you can find all kinds of counterfeit consoles: the PolyStation 2, Nintendo Switch Vita, GBA GameBoy, and more. The game console used to be a high-tech industry where only companies possessing core technology could produce consoles. Nowadays, technology development allows people to make bootleg game consoles at a meagre cost.
Canada’s position on counterfeit game consoles is that counterfeiters and software pirates will face significant penalties. Nevertheless, many consoles come from overseas, out of Canada’s jurisdiction. Given the cost of a lawsuit, many game console companies choose not to pursue infringement and instead focus on their innovation and development.