The Pokémon Company plans to investigate copyright claims against recently released competitor, Palworld.

Described by players as ‘Pokémon with guns’ upon its trailer release in 2021, Palworld is a survival crafting game which bears striking similarities to the Nintendo property.

Notoriously litigious and protective of their IP, The Pokémon Company, the corporate structure responsible for handing most, but not all, Pokémon assets, announced last month that it would investigate copyright infringement from an unnamed competitor, assumed to be Palworld.

They released the following statement shortly after the release of the afore mentioned game:

 

“We have received many inquiries regarding another company’s game released in January 2024. We have not granted any permission for the use of Pokémon intellectual property or assets in that game. We intend to investigate and take appropriate measures to address any acts that infringe on intellectual property rights related to the Pokémon. We will continue to cherish and nurture each and every Pokémon and its world, and work to bring the world together through Pokémon in the future.”

 

The CEO of Pocket Pair, the creators of PalWorld, Takuro Mizobe, defended the game on X (formerly Twitter) asking that people not slander the artists responsible for the monsters in the game.

 

Firstly, what is particularly of note in this instance is the use of the term slander. Due to the bar for proving slander being far lower in Japan than in the United Kingdom or United States, language of this kind is often used to negate criticism and deter legal action.

Secondly, due to both companies being based in Japan, this will be a local lawsuit rather than an international one, meaning that any defence surrounding fair use would not be applicable.

As there is notoriously very little, if any, fair use rights in Japan, Nintendo / The Pokémon Company, is extremely protective of their IP, and with good reason. The mega-franchise is worth an estimated $92-$100 billion as of 2024.

Whilst there has been no update regarding whether The Pokémon Company plans to go through with any legal action, it is certainly an interesting case to keep an eye on.

Palworld has firmly planted itself in the gaming record books. It was purchased over eight million times within six days of release and peaked at over two million concurrent players, making it only the second game in history to achieve such an impressive feat.

Pokémon experienced astonishing and immediate success upon launch in 1998, successfully retaining its grip on popularity to this day. It has spawned not just games but merchandise, toys, television shows and movies.

One of the Scintilla team even has a tattoo of a certain iconic Pokémon! The brand of a true child of the 90s.

We will continue to monitor this case and provide an update, should there be one.

 

 

At Scintilla, we help innovative companies get a grip on their intellectual property. Our unique commercial approach combines registration of patents and trade marks with strategic input so that IP can be a springboard for business growth. If you would like to discuss your IP needs, do contact us or book a free initial consultation!