One of the amazing developments in the NFT world over the last few years is the number of popular franchises that have launched collections. From Baby Shark to House of the Dragon to Stranger Things, many recognizable franchises have entered the NFT space. But with these collections released by the IP holders to the franchise have also come fan-made and even deceptive collections looking to capitalise on the trend.
One of the latest comes from the Pokemon Company International, which has filed a lawsuit against another company Pokemon Pty Ltd which launched an NFT video game using the authorized IP.
Details About the Case
Many of us recognize the Pokemon franchise, even if we did not play the game or watch the TV shows associated with it. Pokemon Pty Ltd has created a mobile game called PokeWorld under the name Kotiota Studios and was marketing to customers. There were also plans to release NFTs that use the Pokemon franchise name and imply a connection with Pokemon Company International.
The problem with this is that it does not have any affiliation with the Pokemon Company International and as such, a court order has been gotten that stops Pokemon Pty Ltd from moving forward with these plans. This court order would essentially stop the company from using any of the Pokemon IPs, including names, characters, images, and so on across both physical and digital media.
This is because while Pokemon itself and its characters are known around the world, not everyone is familiar with the company behind it. And should people see a company advertising Pokemon NFTs with all the imagery they’ve come to know, they might not bother to research who is behind them and might spend money on unauthorized NFTs.
This situation is also compounded by the fact that Pokemon Pty Ltd has repeatedly claimed affiliation with the company. As per court documents, they have claimed to have worked on Pokemon Violet and Pokemon Scarlet, two popular Pokemon games, despite having no involvement in them.
And the Pokemon Company International seems especially concerned with its planned NFT rollout as it has deliberately avoided releasing NFTs so far. Many companies, especially legacy projects like Pokemon, often approach the NFT market very carefully so it is understandable why the Pokemon Company International is so concerned about this. These court docs are essentially asking Pokemon Pty Ltd to stop using the image, name, and likeness of the Pokemon brand and it has also been hinted that Pokemon Company International will pursue further legal action if they do not comply.
The Potential of This Case
This development between the two companies shows a few things; first that as NFTs continue to boom, many will try to cash out using IPs that they do not have the rights to. But If the two companies eventually find themselves in court, it will test the limits of IP and NFT rights and could set legal precedents for the industry for a long time to come.