“Official Taiwan Import” Stickers on Super Famicom games

tl;dr Nintendo Phuten and Nintendo's Taiwan distributor used these labels to indicate games were official imports. Searching some of the patent numbers listed on the labels revealed some interesting patent drawings from the 90s.

During the 16-bit console generation Taiwan saw partially localized consoles. Usually in the form of of some branding tweaks and text on packaging, but the consoles themselves remained NTSC-J. Here’s an example of a Taiwanese Super Famicom box that shows the Taiwanese name for the console 超級任天堂 “Super Nintendo”.

Taiwanese Super Famicom Box
An official Taiwanese Super Famicom labelled “For Sale and Use in Taiwan Only”

Games, on the other hand, were imported from Japan. Gray imports were extremely common, but there were also official imports by Nintendo themselves and their official distributor in Taiwan. These officially imported games featured stickers on the box and cartridge.

Nintendo Phuten sticker on imported Super Castlevania IV
Nintendo Phuten sticker on imported Super Castlevania IV

A yellow sticker on the box reads:

任天堂總代理 Nintendo main distributor
博天股份有限公司 Nintendo Phuten (Nintendo’s now defunct Taiwan subsidiary)

A Taiwanese patent number is also listed, and this patent can still be found on Taiwan’s Patent Search System. The patent was applied for and issued in 1998 and is for a ‘video game console intelligent memory cartridge‘. Here’s Google’s translation of the patent:

Nintendo Phuten Taiwan Patent #21415
Nintendo Phuten Taiwan Patent Cert. #21415

It actually says that the certificate is invalid because it’s lost.

This copy of NBA Pro basketball had a different patent number (#24192) on it that reveals something a lot more interesting:

NBA Pro Basketball with Patent Cert. #24192
NBA Pro Basketball with Patent Cert. #24192

Patent drawings of a Nintendo cartridge.

Nintendo Cartridge Patent Drawings
Nintendo cartridge patent application drawings

A quick search in the Taiwan Patent Search System shows other similar patents from Nintendo for things like Game Boy and Game Boy Advance cartridges. I’ll have to spend some more time searching in here to see if there are any other interesting things.

The cartridges themselves had another sticker:

Hyperzone with official Taiwan import sticker
Hyperzone with official Taiwan import sticker

Read the right way up:

*保證原裝進口* Guaranteed Original Import
開封無效 (warranty) voided if opened
任天堂台灣代理商 Nintendo Taiwan distributor
博愛社有限公司 Bó Ài Co. Ltd.
I’m not sure of the English name of this distributor so I’ve listed the Pinyin for the name. This company, also know as 博優股份有限公司 Bó Yōu Co. Ltd, represented Nintendo in Taiwan for 30 years before Phuten took back control in 2011.

Super Mario World cartridge with official import sticker
Super Mario World cartridge with official import sticker

The relationship between Nintendo Phuten and this distributor/agent isn’t very clear and not really documented. What is clear is that they officially imported and sold Nintendo products in Taiwan for 30 years. Then, in the early 90s, Nintendo set up their own subsidiary, Phuten. I can only guess that both companies worked together to distribute Nintendo products, since the distribution channels would have already been in place. That’s why games featured labels from both companies.