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The Pokemon Company sues planners of a fan event

The Pokemon Company plans to sue the planners of a Pokemon themed Pax Prime party!

On Wednesday, The Pokemon Company filed a lawsuit against two people in Seattle for infringing copyright laws when they threw a Pokemon themed Pre-Pax Prime party and charged $2 for admission. 

This was going to be the “5th Annual Unofficial Pokemon PAX Kickoff Party” and was supposed to be held at the 500 East restaurant and bar, but the manager cancelled the party and stressed to the Pokemon Company that the bar did not plan the event.

The party was planned to include Pokemon themed shots, dancing, a Smash Bros. tournament with a cash prize and even a cosplay contest.

Flyers were made using two copyrighted pictures of Snivy and Pikachu to advertise the event.

According to the lawsuit that was filed in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington on Wednesday states that Pokemon's lawyers plan to “put an end to and obtain redress” for “blatant and willful infringement" and to stop future parties from happening.

When asked if the lawsuit would be cancelled since the party didn't happen, a Pokemon lawyer refused to comment until he can touch bases with his client.

“5th Annual Unofficial Pokemon PAX Kickoff Party”

Pokemon Lawsuit

Now before you go and blame Nintendo for this, just remember that The Pokemon Company isn't owned by Nintendo, although this does seem like a Nintendo-like move, doesn't it?

Published Aug. 29th 2015
  • FreshPrinceSSBM
    What are you doing Nintendo? You're alienating you're fan base Nintendo. If you start doing this to people for absolutely no logical reason. I realize The Pokemon Company is not owned by Nintendo, but what large company would this smaller one be taking advice from? If you continue to alienate the people keeping your games relevant, you will start losing money on a lot more than lawyers, Nintendo.
  • Jonah Falcon_8697
    Fisher: What copyrights? The $2 per person was to PAY FOR THE SPACE.

    DeviantArt is a bigger "threat". (face palm)
  • Jonah Falcon_8697
    What's the end game here? What are they protecting? What's the harm? George Lucas NEVER did anything like this regarding Star Wars, for example. Just the opposite: they grew the brand.

    The $2 charge was to pay for the space. There was no profit here.
  • Aaliyah Bandy
    Correspondent
    While I agree with you, we have to remember that the party planners violated copyright infringement even if they didn't make a profit, they made money with Pokemon copyrighted materials. Not to mention that were they were planning to serve 'Pokémon shots' which does not give Pokemon a kid-friendly image that The Pokemon Company strides for (I know they aren't suing over the shots, but still).
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    After reading the document, and reviewing the poster, it seems like this might actually be one of the most legitimate claims by either The Pokemon Company or Nintendo so far. Under the copyright law, the Pokemon Company is actually defending the intellectual property not of Pokemon itself - for under free use anyone is allowed to draw or host a Pokemon-themed party - but actually because they are defending their artists. The poster depicts two previously used arts from the Pokemon Trading Card Game, and from other instruction manuals and such.

    While this would be fine if it were a non-profit event, the fact that the defendants are "selling" merchandise and alcohol at the event means that the poster is now being used as marketing. Thus, the defendants have breached Copyright law, and The Pokemon Company is in a legal suing position for damages on behalf of their brand, and their artists.

    It sucks, but pretty much any company with an IP would do this if it were a big enough event. Considering this is a 5th annual event, chances are they f'd up this time with their poster and not the other times - likely using unofficial art.
  • Michael Slevin
    Columnist
    Yeah they totally have the legal right to do it, it just stinks that fans will be punished. But I agree, totally legitimate claim
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    I think that this one's going to be one of those situations that the fans are going to be all like "this is total bs! Riot against Pokemon/Nintendo! They treat us like crap! Boycot Nintendo! *rage* *rage*" and then meanwhile many of them who are artists will be like "why does no one protect my copyrights when people steal my work? qq"
  • Durinn McFurren
    Contributor
    I think you are correct that technically, they have a case here over the poster. However:

    1. I believe copyright law should be changed to include posters like this as part of 'fair use.' Nobody is selling copies of Pokemon cards.

    2. The article claims the lawsuit was to prevent future parties as well. The party itself, however, was in no way infringing on the artists. Of course, perhaps the article misunderstood the actual terms.

    Either way, I hope the jury rules against Pokemon and requires them to compensate the party planners for legal fees and inconvenience; I'm glad I have never supported them financially.
  • Aaliyah Bandy
    Correspondent
    @durinn-mcfurren No, the lawyers wish to prevent any more of the 'unofficial annual parties.' I did not misunderstand any terms.
  • Aaliyah Bandy
    Correspondent
    Even though no information states how they plan to prevent future parties, just by looking at the given information in this article it's safe to guess that this whole lawsuit ordeal has shaken up the party planners and have discouraged them from doing this again.
  • Durinn McFurren
    Contributor
    Right, and I don't see how that can be reasonable. The picture violates copyright in a way that is completely harmless to the company, but yes, it technically violates copyright, while the party itself violates nothing and clearly benefits the company.

    Regarding the notion, mentioned by e.g. David Fisher, that they are 'protecting the artists,' I call BS. The artists do not hold the copyrights! If the artists don't hold the copyrights, how can the lawsuit protect them?

    Ultimately this seems like a really stupid fight to pick. Best case scenario for the company is that they get less publicity because there's no more Pokemon party (any penalty which they are awarded is going to be a meaninglessly small amount); worst case is that they alienate a bunch of fans and wind up humiliated in court (if I were the judge in this case, I would order that their CEO personally come kiss my feet and apologize for this nonsense). Corporate drones making stupid lawsuits like this are why we should never have abolished the pillory...

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