Nintendo Sues RomUniverse ROM Distribution Site

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Nintendo's crusade against ROM distribution sites hasn't ended. Polygon reported that Nintendo of America filed a lawsuit against RomUniverse, which claims to be "the best romsite in the universe," on September 10. The company said in the lawsuit that RomUniverse was "built largely on brazen and mass scale infringement of Nintendo’s intellectual property rights" starting in 2009.

This lawsuit is part of Nintendo's efforts to fight online piracy. The company sued Emuparadise and the people behind and in 2018. Both of those suits were successful, at least where piracy was concerned, because they both led the ROM distributors in question to shut down. We suspect Nintendo wants to achieve the same result with this lawsuit against RomUniverse.

Nintendo is using a tried-and-true tactic to shut down RomUniverse. The company is reportedly seeking $150,000 in damages for each instance of copyright infringement and up to $2 million in damages for each instance of trademark infringement. Considering the company's allegation that RomUniverse distributes basically every game made for pretty much all Nintendo consoles, that could be a hefty sum.

RomUniverse probably wouldn't end up paying anywhere near the amount Nintendo is seeking. This is a common tactic among large companies that can afford to pay the legal fees required to see an important case through to the end. (And, if it doesn't win, go through the appeals process.) Most of their targets end up settling for a far lower sum of money and an agreement to immediately cease operations.

RomUniverse is currently soliciting donations on its website to defend itself against Nintendo's lawsuit. The site's also positioned this as a fight for ROM downloaders' rights, too; however, that probably wouldn't hold up in court. No matter how popular it is, we know that downloading emulated games is illegal, which is why Nintendo's efforts have been so effective to date. We doubt any donations to RomUniverse would change that.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • bigdragon
    Nintendo and partners won't make their back catalog available for purchase and they don't want people downloading ROMs either. It really irks me that good old games are being buried. Nintendo needs to knock off their legal action or make their entire back catalog available -- not a few selected titles!

    A lot of the older NES, SNES, and N64 games have become more appealing to play these days. It's honestly refreshing to go back and time to when RNG loot and loot boxes weren't in every game!
  • gggplaya
    They should make roms available online in some form and collect residuals just like any other kind of media. They can make them available on the nintendo switch estore. I recognize that many of these companies are now belly up, but someone must own those IP's. Nintendo should put the invite out there, that if they own the IP, they can sign up to have the game ported to the nintendo eSTORE and collect residuals.
  • jasonelmore
    The Rom website should argue that Nintendo has not been protecting it's IP rights consistently and therefore gave up the right to claim infringement, which is required to maintain legal protection under trademark law.