13 November 2018Copyright

Nintendo secures $12.2m from Arizona couple for IP infringement

Nintendo has come to a $12.2 million settlement agreement with a couple who operated infringing video game websites.

The parties said they have reached an agreement for a “full and final resolution” of their copyright and trademark dispute in a joint motion filed at the US District Court for the District of Arizona on Friday, November 9.

Nintendo filed its complaint (pdf) against Jacob Mathias, his business Mathias Designs, and two websites that he operated— and—in July.

Mathias’s wife, Cristian Mathias, was later added to the complaint.

In the original complaint filed against Jacob Mathias, the video game company claimed that the websites were “built almost entirely on the brazen and mass-scale infringement of Nintendo’s IP rights”.

Mathias reproduced, distributed, and displayed a “staggering number” of unauthorised copies of Nintendo’s video games on his platforms, the suit said, as well as using the video game company’s registered trademarks.

The platforms offered a range of Nintendo games including “Super Mario World”, “Mario Kart 64” and “Super Mario Bros 3”, in addition to thousands of Nintendo’s copyright-protected musical works, audio recordings, and video game characters.

Nintendo asked the court to award damages of $150,000 for each case of copyright infringement, $2 million for each instance of trademark infringement, and a permanent injunction.

TorrentFreak said that Mathias took the pirate platforms down shortly after the complaint was served.

According to the joint motion filed on Friday, the parties have now come to an agreement to settle the matter, though a judge has yet to sign the order for relief (pdf) or the final judgment (pdf).

The motion said: “Defendants acknowledge and accept that their conduct in connection with the websites constitutes direct and indirect copyright and trademark infringement and causes Nintendo irreparable injury for which remedies available at law are inadequate to compensate Nintendo.”

The $12.2 million judgment will apply jointly and severally against the defendants, and each party is to bear its own legal costs.

In addition to the monetary relief, the motion recognised Nintendo’s exclusive copyright in its video games. It asked that a permanent injunction be implemented against the defendants to prevent the infringing activities continuing.

The requested injunction also covers the use of any counterfeit Nintendo trademarks.

As part of the agreement the defendants will permanently terminate operating any websites or systems that “involve Nintendo materials”, and will transfer ownership of the websites to Nintendo for free.

The parties agreed that all infringing video games (including digital files) will be destroyed.

The defendants waived the right to appeal against any aspect of the judgment, monetary order, or permanent injunction as part of the agreement.

Nintendo is no stranger to IP disputes.

In Japan, the video games company is currently in a copyright spat with a go-karting rental company which provides riders with a character costume from Nintendo’s “Mario Kart” universe such as Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach.

Despite the Tokyo District Court awarding Nintendo damages of ¥10 million ($89,000) and ordering the rental company to stop its infringing activities, it has continued to offer the costume services pending an appeal at the IP High Court in Tokyo.

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