Microsoft's Xbox games console, which has not been given a launch date in Hong Kong amid piracy fears, will be on sale in the SAR as early as Monday as retailers import the product through unofficial channels. The move means Hong Kong will have the consoles three days after they are launched this morning in the United States. Owners of all eight shops selling home game consoles at the Oriental 1888 Shopping Centre in Wan Chai yesterday said they would have Xboxes for sale in the near future, with six expecting the first batch from the US as early as Monday. One shopowner said the machines were parallel imports and would take 'a few days' to be flown from the US. Parallel imports are products imported from overseas agents who have a legitimate licence issued by the brand owner but are not the official local distributors. The Xbox is expected to sell at an official price of US$299 (HK$2,330). The parallel import of Xbox consoles, which are packaged with two games, is illegal under Hong Kong copyright laws. A Microsoft Hong Kong spokeswoman said they would monitor the situation next week and appropriate action would be taken. Microsoft Asia spokesman Olivier Richard said it was not yet known if Xbox would be released in Hong Kong and China. He said a number of factors, including high piracy rates, were being considered. The Director of Intellectual Property, Stephen Selby, said yesterday: 'When we say we're winning the war [against piracy], what we mean is that enormous progress has been made over the previous year.' Former commissioner of Customs and Excise John Tsang Chun-wah said in October last year that piracy had been virtually eradicated and that fewer than 100 stores sold pirated software, down from a high of 1,000. But Customs' Senior Superintendent Ho Yiu-Keung said the situation remained the same this year, with 7.5 million pirated articles seized in the first 10 months. In the whole of last year, 9.2 million were seized. Piracy remains among the top 10 security threats to businesses in the Asia-Pacific area, a survey shows. Intellectual property infringement was ranked as the ninth major concern from a list of 26 security threats, down from sixth in a similar survey last year. Among the 74 respondents were firms based in Hong Kong and the Asia-Pacific operations of multinational organisations. Topping the list of security concerns were problems like disasters and civil war. While the threat of terrorism ranked 23rd, the survey report said the poll was conducted in July, before the September 11 attacks in the US. Warwick Stacey, managing director of Pinkerton (Hong Kong), which conducted the survey, said while respondents found piracy was less of a concern, the problem still existed. 'The problem hasn't improved and in fact is growing, especially in China.'