News from Germany has revealed Nintendo is currently engaged in a legal battle in the District Court of Frankfort to defend their “no refund policy” in the European Union. Litigation has been brought against Nintendo by the Norwegian Consumer Council who had previously instructed Nintendo to issue refunds on pre-orders after rating them the worst in consumer rights.
The center of the legal contention is when the “performance” of the product begins. Consumers, gamers or otherwise along with the Norwegian Consumer Council contend it begins when players are able to play the game and not a moment before. Nintendo in contrasts argues that the performance begins at the very moment the payment is complete regardless if the player has any capacity to actually play the game.
Norway’s Consumer Council is very confident they will emerge victorious in the subsequent legal proceedings.
“We clearly believe that consumers have the right to withdraw from a pre-launch before launch, and then get the money back,” legal adviser Thomas Iversen
What is significant about this case is if Nintendo is convicted the case will head to the EU for an interpretation. The European Union has a universal legal system, so if a ruling is made in one member State, it becomes precedent across the entire European Union.
For an example of this in practice, McDonald’s took the Irish fast food chain Supermac’s to court over a trademark violation earlier this year. The verdict came down that Supermac’s was not in violation of any trademark laws and subsequently McDonald’s lost the trademark for Big Macs across the entire EU, as reported by Reuters.
(Yes this picture is real and from a Burger King in the EU)
For this reason Electronic Arts or any other company has not fought national efforts to regulate lootboxes as gambling. As any verdict that proved in court they were gambling would then become law across the entirety of the European Union. Thus if Nintendo loses their legal case consumers will enjoy a boon to their protections in the EU as it is codified into law that all preorders must be refundable up until the deliverance of the product in a playable state. Well if they’re smart they’re include the “playable state,” clause as it would allow refunds post launch if the game were to launch broken.
As the case began on the 14th the verdict could be any day or a month away. We’ll keep you up to date when the verdict is finally dropped.
(Thanks for the tip Ebicentre)