On Sept 29, 24-year-old Daisuke Ikeda was arrested on suspicion of violating the Trademark Act. During the spring of this year he is accused of selling five iPhones with modified iOS operating systems that allow them to bypass Apples restrictions over which apps can be downloaded and installed on the device.
In this case, the process – widely known as “jailbreaking” – was reportedly done so that the iPhones could be loaded with a script that would allow the user to cheat at the popular Japanese game Monster Strike.
In the game players must flick their characters to deal damage to monsters. The video below is just an example of a cheat that can be done with a jailbroken iPhone (not the one Ikeda is accused of selling). In it, an app is used to alter the game’s code so that attacks give much more damage than usual for easy victories.
The investigation against Ikeda is still ongoing but his arrest on the grounds of violating trademark law is the first of its kind in Japan and has taken many people by surprise according to comments.
■ “When I first heard the news, I thought the guy was selling like 200 of them, but this seems kind of excessive.” ■ “I think it’s the ones (makers and carriers) selling devices that consumers can’t use freely that are committing crimes.” ■ “I didn’t know jailbreaking a phone was a crime. I think it’s only natural for people to want to use the software of their choosing.” ■ “So many other people did what this guy did and got away with it… I wonder if the people using the phones would be punished too.” ■ “Looks like he’ll have to do some real jailbreaking now.” ■ “Huh? Trademark law? I could see if he was selling them under the premise that they were regular iPhones. But should people be allowed to modify the phones that they own? I’m not sure how I feel about this.”
The reason why Ikeda is being pursued under the Trademark Act is the presence of the Apple logo. Because the phones he altered still bore the Apple brand on them, they could be classified as counterfeit goods, which of course are illegal to sell.
It seems to be a slippery-slope that law-enforcement are heading into that could lead into several other areas. For example, would selling any car that has had some customization work done on it technically be illegal if the vehicle still had the automaker’s logo on it?
However, this process is still the early stages and it will be up to the courts to decide if the concept of ownership still means what it used to.
Sources: NHK, Netlab, Hachima Kiko
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