This section of our website is designed to answer questions you may have about our intellectual property rights and Nintendo's response to infringement of those rights. Thank you for your interest.
Nintendo has become a household word around the globe, and its video games have become a multi-billion dollar industry. The creation of a single video game often takes several years of work for teams of game developers, artists, animators, musicians, motion capture artists and many others. It costs millions of dollars to develop, manufacture, market and distribute a single Nintendo video game. Unfortunately, Nintendo and its over 100 independent publishers and developers, lose hundreds of millions of dollars per year to international pirates and counterfeiters.
Counterfeiting of Nintendo's video game products is a serious problem. For over 20 years, Nintendo has undertaken an aggressive worldwide campaign to stop the production and distribution of pirated video game products.
Nintendo has also been active in its efforts to stop the illegal distribution of game copying devices. Since 2008, Nintendo has supported over 600 actions in 16 countries, confiscating over a half million DS game copiers. Nintendo has had assistance from law enforcement authorities in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, United Kingdom and United States. As part of its battle against piracy, Nintendo is also working with Chinese enforcement authorities to pursue factories in China responsible for the manufacture of the infringing devices. In 2009 alone, working with law enforcement agencies, Nintendo has pursued actions against over 80 factories in China producing the unlawful devices. Nintendo will continue to pursue the distribution of game copying devices on a global scale.
Nintendo Intellectual Property
The Nintendo brand and Nintendo products are protected by intellectual property laws. This includes the name Nintendo, logos, characters, product names, games, graphics and website and marketing content. Nintendo has over 300 trademarks registered in Australia.
You are not entitled to use any of this Nintendo property without our specific permission. Because we receive so many requests for use we cannot respond to them all individually. The fact that we do not respond does not imply permission for you to use any of Nintendo's intellectual property.
If you are uncertain about whether your planned activities require Nintendo's consent you should obtain your own legal advice. Nintendo does not give legal advice, please act with care. Nintendo treats very seriously any infringement of its rights.
We appreciate your interest in Nintendo brands and products.
Intellectual property rights
Nintendo owns intellectual property rights in its products. These include copyright, trademarks, and patents, designs and circuit layouts.
Copyright is the exclusive right granted to an author of a literary, musical, audiovisual or artistic work, to reproduce and distribute that work or to make it available online. There are several different types of copyright which are associated with Nintendo's products. These include copyright in Nintendo's video games themselves, computer software, game visual display, game music, game characters, product packaging, game manuals and labels, hardware chip microcode, artwork and publications.
Copyright arises automatically in Australia. It does not need to be registered.
Trademarks are the distinctive names, words, logos, designs and symbols used to distinguish a product of a particular manufacturer or source. Some of Nintendo's most widely recognized trademarks include Game Boy, Nintendo, Nintendo DS, Nintendo GameCube, Pokémon, Super Mario Bros., Wii and Zelda. Nintendo's trademarks are registered in many countries. Nintendo has more than 250 registered trademarks in Australia and many more pending registrations.
A patent is a grant of the exclusive right in an invention for a period of time. Nintendo owns many patents associated with its hardware and software products.
A design is the grant of an exclusive right, for a limited period, in the appearance, shape or pattern of an article.. Nintendo owns a number of designs in Australia in relation to the shape or appearance of its hardware and software products.
The Circuits Layouts Act 1989 in Australia provides copyright-style protection for integrated circuits or semi-conduct chips. Some of the circuits in Nintendo products are eligible for protection under this Act.
Third party intellectual property owners
Nintendo licenses a number of independent third party publishers to use its intellectual property in developing, creating and marketing their own video games. There are a number of intellectual property rights associated with these games that are owned by these publishers. In addition, many independent property owners from such sources as movies, television, sports leagues, etc. license their intellectual properties for use in Nintendo and third party video games.
A counterfeit Nintendo product is an illegal copy of an authentic Nintendo product. The production, distribution, or sale of counterfeit Nintendo products is illegal. Nintendo has brought many civil and criminal actions against counterfeiters and those who distribute or sell counterfeit Nintendo goods (including those that sell or distribute them online).
Game copiers are products which connect to a computer and enable users to illegally copy video game software onto any type of memory cartridge, disk or directly to the hard drive of a personal computer.
Game copiers circumvent the technological protection measures in Nintendo products and enable the user to make, play and distribute illegal copies of Nintendo video games which infringe Nintendo's intellectual property. These devices allow for the uploading and downloading of Nintendo game data or so called Read Only Memory (ROMs) to and from the Internet.
There are a number of different game copiers including R4DS, R4DS Revolution SDHC, M3DS, DS Linker, Supercard DS One, Cyclo DS Evolution, DSTT, N5, EZ , EZ Flash , Edge Card, and AceKard,
Are game copying devices illegal?
Yes. Game copiers that are used to copy video game software without authorization onto any type of memory device or the hard drive of a personal computer are illegal. They infringe copyright in computer programs in Nintendo products and infringe Nintendo trade marks. They are also circumvention devices. The manufacturing, importing or distributing of circumvention devices is prohibited under the Copyright Act
Modchips circumvent the security which is embedded in Nintendo's products. Like many other countries Australia has a law which allows copyright owners to take action against manufacturers and sellers of devices (such as modchips) which circumvent security systems. Installing a modchip in a Nintendo product will void the consumer warranty for that product. Providing a circumvention service (by installing modchips) is also illegal.
Nintendo Products purchased out of Australia
Genuine Nintendo products purchased overseas will not always operate satisfactorily in Australia. This is primarily because the video standard or electronic signal that is recorded on video games on some overseas countries (particularly the Americas) is different to that which applies in Australia. Products purchased overseas are not covered by the manufacturer's warranty and statutory warranties which apply to Nintendo products purchased in Australia.
Purchasing Nintendo Products Online and from Overseas
If you choose to purchase Nintendo products online or when travelling overseas you should be aware of the following;
Always take steps to ensure that the product is a genuine Nintendo product and not a counterfeit.
Ensure that the product has been designed for use in Australia / New Zealand. For example, if you purchase a Nintendo DSi console online and the DSi has been produced for the Japanese market, the user interface and the menu will be displayed in Japanese. You will not have access to the online functionality offered by a console designed for use in Australia / New Zealand. Even though the product may be a genuine Nintendo product you may find the diminished functionality a great source of frustration.
If the product has been produced for an overseas market it will not be supported by the warranty in Australia and New Zealand.
If the console has been produced for an overseas market the AC adaptor may not be usable in Australia.
If the product has been produced for an overseas market Nintendo Australia may not carry parts for the repair of the product.
If the product is offered well below normal retail pricing, it could be a counterfeit.
Always ensure that the packaging carries the Nintendo Seal of Quality trademark.
Look closely at the packaging. If the artwork is of poor quality, faded, discoloured or distorted, the product is likely to be a counterfeit.
Always ask if the product is new. Beware of "refurbished" products as they are often counterfeits.
A Nintendo ROM ("Read Only Memory") is the type of chip used in a Nintendo video game cartridge which contains the game software. However, this term is commonly used on many gaming sites on the Internet and refers to game data that was copied from an authentic Nintendo video game and uploaded for illegal distribution.
Nintendo video game emulators.
A Nintendo emulator is a software program that is designed to allow game play on a platform that it was not created for. A Nintendo emulator allows for Nintendo console based or arcade games to be played on unauthorized hardware. The video games are obtained by downloading illegally copied software, i.e. Nintendo ROMs, from Internet distributors. Nintendo ROMs then work with the Nintendo emulator to enable game play on unauthorized hardware such as a personal computer, a modified console, or another video game device.
Can I download a Nintendo ROM from the internet if I already own the authentic game?
It is illegal to download a Nintendo ROM from the internet whether or not you own an authentic copy of that game.
Although Australian copyright law now allows limited 'format shifting' of certain copyright material for private and domestic use, this right does not allow the copying of video games to a different format.
Also, the limited right which the Copyright Act gives to make backup copies of computer programs does not apply to Nintendo video games.
People making Nintendo emulators and Nintendo ROMs are helping publishers by making old games available that are no longer being sold by the copyright owner. This does not hurt anyone and allows gamers to play old favourites. What's the problem?
The problem is that it's illegal. Copyrights and trademarks of games are corporate assets. If these vintage titles are available far and wide, it undermines the value of this intellectual property and adversely affects the right owner. In addition, the assumption that the games involved are vintage or nostalgia games is incorrect. Nintendo is famous for bringing back to life its popular characters for its newer systems, for example, Mario and Donkey Kong have enjoyed their adventures on all Nintendo platforms, going from coin-op machines to our latest hardware platforms. As a copyright owner, and creator of such famous characters, only Nintendo has the right to benefit from such valuable assets.
Isn't it okay to download Nintendo ROMs for games that are no longer distributed in the stores or commercially exploited? Aren't they considered "public domain"?
No, the current availability of a game in stores is irrelevant as to its copyright status. Copyrights do not enter the public domain just because they are no longer commercially exploited or widely available. Therefore, the copyrights of games are valid even if the games are not found on store shelves, and using, copying and/or distributing those games violates Nintendo's intellectual property rights.
Hasn't the copyright in old games expired?
In Australia, copyright lasts for at least 70 years, and sometimes longer. Because video games have only been developed in the last three decades, the copyright of all video games will not expire for many decades to come.
Tips to Detect Counterfeit Products
Consumers should be cautious when purchasing Nintendo products via online auctions through online retailers or at markets.
Carefully consider whether to purchase from websites offering large quantities of Nintendo products at low prices.
If the product is offered well below normal retail pricing, it could be a counterfeit product.
Nintendo does not sell games in multi-game cartridges or in association with game copiers. A product offering multiple Nintendo games will almost certainly be counterfeit.
Look closely at the ink found on game discs, cartridges and packaging. Is there blurred printing on the game label? Is the colour faded, discoloured or does the ink appear to be low quality?
Look closely at the Nintendo Seal of Quality trademark placed on the packaging and/or the game disc or cartridge. Is it missing or does the ink appear to be of poor quality?
Counterfeiters may ship the game disc or cartridge separate from the packaging or instruction manuals. If you purchase your product online, please note that Nintendo’s games come fully assembled, within its packaging and contains all relevant instruction materials.
Use caution when purchasing used games. Make sure the product is not counterfeit, using the same tips outlined above.
Can I report suspected infringement?
To report infringing items or other illegal activities please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.