Nintendo Wins Rom Lawsuit, But Gets Less Than It Wanted
After almost two years, the legal battle between Nintendo and RomUniverse is over. The company came out victorious with millions in damages and the takedown of RomUniverse. However, the money given to Nintendo falls far short of what it asked.
It all started in 2019 when Nintendo filed a lawsuit against RomUniverse. The site hosted downloadable files of Nintendo Switch games, which the company argued violated copyright infringement. The allegations went further, with Nintendo claiming that RomUniverse owner Matthew Storman sold premium memberships that allowed users more efficient access to illegally-listed games. Storman decided to represent himself in court with the defense that the site never distributed pirated games, and that he personally never uploaded a game.
Storman tried to get the case dismissed, but the court sided with Nintendo early last year. He eventually took the site down, but the case continued as Nintendo pursued monetary compensation for damage to its business. Now, a US District Court Judge ruled that Nintendo will get about $2.1 million in damages, reports TorrentFreak.
That number comes in at a fraction of what Nintendo was initially seeking – it wanted over $15 million.
The big difference comes from the trademark infringement damage amount. Nintendo sought $400,000 for each individual Nintendo IP that was found on RomUniverse, not counting multiple instances of games in the same series like Mario or Zelda. There were 28 trademarks in play. Instead of the $11 million or so that would amount to, the judge gave Nintendo $400,000 total for all instances of trademark infringement.
Aside from that, Nintendo also wanted $90,000 for every instance of a copyrighted game being on RomUniverse. The company claimed 49 games were on the site, so it wanted a little over $4.4 million. The judge took that down to $35,000 a game, adding up to just over $1.7 million.
Much of the judge’s reasoning behind the lower amounts comes down to the fact that RomUniverse is now gone. The site no longer poses any threat to Nintendo’s business, and the company didn’t show evidence of taking on permanent harm. The judge also seems to believe that Storman has been punished up to (and maybe beyond) his means, calling him the “Defendant who is currently unemployed and has already shut down the website.”
Nintendo is known for being aggressive when it comes to defending its trademarks, with fan game makers sometimes falling into the company’s crosshairs. Sega, meanwhile, is cool with Sonic fan games as long as they’re not done for profit.
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