MORE than 70 American companies led by Nintendo of America have formally asked the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to retaliate against Taiwan, China and eight other countries for alleged piracy of copyrighted video games. The companies accused Taiwan of being the ''centre for video game piracy throughout the world'' and pointed to a ''substantial upsurge'' in Taiwan's export of counterfeit video games, particularly to Europe and Latin America. Nintendo and the other firms - claiming that Taiwan had refused to stop copyright thefts - demanded that the USTR take action under the so-called Special 301 American trade law, which calls for retaliation against countries that pirate US copyrights and other intellectual property. The coalition, which consists mostly of developers and licencees of Nintendo games, also called for Special 301 action against China, Singapore, Korea, and seven Latin American countries. The accusation against China could prove controversial since Beijing last year signed a Special 301 agreement to protect American copyrights after coming under intense pressure from Washington. Nintendo said in a press release that the complainants were losing more than US$2 billion a year due to sales of counterfeit video games. It claimed that Taiwan had failed to keep its promise to prevent the export of pirated computer software and video games.