Despite $ 2.1million move, RomUniverse owner plans to bring ROM site back


Enlarge / RomUniverse has been down for months, but owner Matt Storman may be considering bringing it back despite a court ruling.

In May, a U.S. District Court ordered former owner Matthew Storman to pay Nintendo $ 2.1 million in damages for copyright and trademark infringement. Now Nintendo is seeking an additional permanent injunction against Storman, who it says is planning to bring back the ROM site without “Nintendo content” and who has not made a payment of $ 50 per month for such damages.

Storman – who has said in court documents that his post-RomUniverse income comes mainly from “unemployment and food stamps” – seems unlikely to pay even a small portion of the $ 2.1 million judgment against him. Paying a token of $ 50 per month, an amount that Nintendo says Storman “offered and accepted,” would mean full damage coverage would take Storman 3,500 years, and that’s without factoring in interest.

Still, Nintendo uses the damages to its advantage, claiming that Storman’s failure to make its first monthly payment of $ 50 “demonstrates that Nintendo has no adequate legal recourse for the defendant’s past or future violation and stresses the need for a permanent injunction “.

Reconstruct the site?

Meanwhile at a recent filing with the court, Perkins Coie’s attorney, William Rava, recounts a phone call he had with Storman on June 3 after the court’s initial ruling. During that call, Rava said: “Mr. Storman said he is still thinking about what to do with RomUniverse and that if he were to bring the website back it might contain video game content and games. ROMs from companies other than Nintendo, but would not have Nintendo Content. “

“The opposition does not dispute that [Storman] plans to relaunch the RomUniverse site to continue distributing video game ROMs, “writes Nintendo in a case based on Rava’s testimony. “It also does not claim that this future use will not violate Nintendo’s intellectual property rights.”

Storman’s statement brings up an interesting legal distinction between games developed and / or published by Nintendo and third-party games that simply work on Nintendo consoles. The decision against Storman focused on 49 games for the old group; these titles were protected by copyright and deposited directly by Nintendo. But Nintendo has fewer legal rights to hundreds of other ROMs that work on Nintendo consoles but whose copyrights and trademarks belong to other companies (who are responsible for protecting those rights).

Even if a ROM site ignored all games released by Nintendo, it could still face legal issues from Nintendo for misusing brand name console names and images or for suggesting a legitimate relationship with Nintendo’s hardware. Nintendo console that does not exist. the Internet Archive Console Living Room Project, for example, does not officially include any licensed games for Nintendo consoles for fear of legal threats from Nintendo (although some copyrighted NES and SNES games are sometimes downloaded by Internet Archive users before being taken down).

Legal maneuvers

Nintendo initially sought a permanent injunction against a “future infringement” of Nintendo’s intellectual property in its initial summary judgment motion against Storman. While any future breaches are still illegal in any case, a preventive court injunction would allow Nintendo to quickly shut down a new ROM site if Storman creates one (as he seems to be planning).

The judge dismissed Nintendo’s original injunction claim, saying the pecuniary damages and the fact that the site was already closed weighed against the necessary argument for “irreparable harm.” Now, however, Nintendo is citing the new legal precedent of the 2020 Trademark Modernization Act by claiming a permanent injunction. This law, which was passed just before Nintendo first sought an injunction but was not reviewed at the time, establishes a new “mandatory presumption of irreparable harm” in trademark infringement cases which, according to Nintendo, should direct the court to an injunction.

Storman, who is representing himself in the case, has its own somewhat disjointed movement asking the court to reconsider the statutory damages it imposed in May. “There is no legitimate and admissible evidence that the Court can reasonably [sic] interpret to make him believe that the plaintiff, Nintendo, suffered actual damage, whatever it may be, as a result of any of the defendant’s actions or inactions, ”writes Storman.

In his response, Nintendo is arguing that it has already “presented undisputed evidence that there were approximately 50,000 illegal downloads of counterfeit ROMs at the time Nintendo filed its complaint, and that the retail price of Nintendo games is between $ 20 and $ 60 “.


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