The 14 Most Scandalous Legal Battles in Gaming History

Pokémon Lookalike

Nintendo v Uri Geller (1999)

In 2000, entertainer and psychic Uri Geller sued Nintendo for $100 million after he claimed that the company made a Pokémon based on him without his prior knowledge. The Pokémon in question is Kadabra, which evolves into Alakazam. Kadabra is known in Japanese as “yungerer”, which, when you pronounce it out loud, sounds an awful like Uri Geller!

If that wasn’t similar enough, the Pocket Monster is described on his card as a “magician and psychic” who carries around a bent spoon (which was one of Geller's main gimmicks)! Geller was unaware of his cartoon fame until he visited the Pokémon Center store in Tokyo, Japan.

According to The Guardian:

“[Uri Geller] was simply bemused when the store manager rushed out from his office continuously bowing, as hundreds of children thrust Pokémon cards at him to autograph while chanting what sounded like Uri Geller.”

Geller also claimed that the star on Alakazam’s forehead and the lightning patterns on his stomach were akin to the symbols popularized by the SS during World War II.

He stated to BBC News:

“Nintendo turned me into an evil, occult Pokémon character. Nintendo stole my identity by using my name and my signature image.”

Production of the Kadabra trading cards ceased in 2003, and the case was ultimately dismissed, as the Pocket Monster had some similarities to Geller rather than being a photo perfect likeness. The jury’s out as to whether the similarities to real people were purely coincidental!

Published Jul. 6th 2017
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