From the official Pokémon Company event, the Pokémon World Championships. Photo: Jason Koebler
The Pokémon Company International, which owns and operates the popular card and video game franchise, has filed suit against a Pokémon-themed party and its organizers, Ramar Larkin Jones and Zach Shore, for willfully infringing on its copyright.
The 5th Annual Unofficial Pokémon PAX Kickoff Party was supposed to take place at the 500 East restaurant and bar in Seattle on Thursday night, right in time for all the PAX Prime attendees who are in town for the gaming convention.
The lawsuit specifically calls out the promotional materials for the unofficial party, which use Pokémon characters Pikachu and Snivy.
"Pikachu, the most recognizable Pokémon within the Pokémon universe, has become the principal mascot for TPCi as a company and for the Pokémon brand world-wide," the company explains, in what is a slight burn to the grass-type Pokémon Snivy. "In 2014 alone, TPCi invested over $6 million in domestic advertising and promotions associated with its Trading Card Game."
A promotional poster for the event featuring Pikachu and some loser Pokémon. Image: Scribd.
The Pokémon Company is seeking statutory damages "within the higher range allowed when infringement has been committed willfully"; any profits the organizers made through the events since 2011; attorney fees; and a permanent injunction stopping the organizers from using the company's copyrighted materials in the future.
The Pokémon Company may be well within its rights here. It does own these characters and Jones and Shore were selling tickets for events that used their likeness, but boy does this seem uncalled for.
The Pokémon Company has a whole series of popular official events that culminate with the Pokémon World Championships, and it's hard to imagine how one annual event would significantly impact its bottom line.
As we've seen first-hand when we visited the Pokémon World Championships this year, the whole reason Pokémon remained popular for so many years is because of rabid fandom that make events like the 5th Annual Unofficial Pokemon PAX Kickoff Party possible. It's sad to see the company go after its most dedicated fans.The Pokémon Company International declined to comment on this story.