Nintendo wins Japanese court case to stop DS game emulator sales

Nintendo has won a court case in Tokyo against sellers of illegal game emulators for its DS handheld console, part of its ongoing legal campaign to stamp out the products under toughened Japanese laws.

The game company applauded a decision handed down by the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday to order several Japanese importers to stop selling "magic computers," known as "flashcarts" in other countries. Nintendo filed the case along with several dozen game producers including Capcom and Square Enix.

The Tokyo District Court ordered that the six offending companies also pay restitution of about ¥96 million yen ($950,000). Although the sum was small given the size of the game industry, Nintendo applauded the financial penalty.

Nintendo DS flashcartJay Alabaster
(Click to enlarge.)

"This decision affirms not just the illegality of 'magic computers,' but also the responsibility of importers for damages caused to legitimate software sales, and Nintendo recognizes its importance to the entire gaming industry," the company said in a press release.

The devices, widely available for the DS and other consoles, are cartridges with rewriteable memory that can easily be flashed with illegal game files downloaded online, as well as features to use game cheats and evade copy protection software. Many sold online also come with a collection of game titles preloaded and are sold at a fraction of the retail cost of the games.

Japan's laws were toughened in 2011 in an attempt to curb the spread of such technology. The Unfair Competition Prevention Act was revised to make importing or selling the devices a criminal offense. Previously offenders were only issued warnings, or companies like Nintendo could pursue civil action against them.

Hardware has long been the only way to play illegally copies of games on Nintendo consoles, but the company has recently moved to digital sales of mainstream titles, potentially opening up new avenues for hackers.

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