Nintendo files multimillion-dollar lawsuit against ROM website

Nintendo of America has filed a lawsuit on Sept. 10 against the owner of ROM website RomUniverse. The company is seeking damages in the amount of $150,000 for each copyright infringement, and up to $2 million for each trademark infringement. Nintendo says that the pirated games display “counterfeit copies of Nintendo’s trademarks” when the games are played, as well as infringing the copyright of the works themselves.

RomUniverse reportedly offers memberships to its site, priced at $30 per year. The membership allows users to download “an unlimited number of pirated games, [referred to as ROMs,] with higher speeds than non-members,” Nintendo alleges. The company says in the lawsuit that RomUniverse is “among the most visited and notorious online hubs for pirated Nintendo video games,” with nearly 300,000 downloads for the offered Nintendo Switch games and “more than 500,000” downloads for Nintendo 3DS games.

The ROM site appears to list both new and old Nintendo games, as well as movies and books. A RomUniverse representative declined to speak with Polygon. Nintendo has not responded to Polygon’s inquiry by publication time.

Nintendo appears to be cracking down on piracy worldwide. This week, Nintendo won a United Kingdom high court case that will require five internet service providers — Sky, BT, EE, Talktalk, and Virgin Media — to “block” or “impede access” to four different websites that offered pirated Nintendo Switch games or information pertaining to the action, according to a Eurogamer report.

“This decision will help protect the UK games industry and the more than 1,800 developers worldwide that create games for the Nintendo Switch platform, and who rely on legitimate sales of games for their livelihood and to keep bringing quality content to gamers,” a Nintendo representative told Eurogamer about the high court ruling.

In November 2018, Nintendo reached a $12 million settlement with the two ROM sites, and, it previously sued over similar allegations. Nintendo is also known to send out cease-and-desist letters liberally — it issued a takedown notice for 562 fangames in 2016.

This week’s lawsuit appears to be in line with Nintendo’s overall efforts to curb piracy of its games and on its platforms.


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