Pokémon settle copyright dispute with apparel seller Tee Turtle

PokémonPokémon Company International, the US-based entity which manages the brand’s IP, has settled its copyright quarrel with apparel seller Tee Turtle.

Tee Turtle sells apparel featuring designs created by “in-house artists” and guest designers, and specialises in “cute, funny, popculture-y shirts”.

According to Pokémon’s claim, filed at the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, Seattle in September 2015, Tee Turtle sold apparel featuring Pokémon characters and images.“As of mid-August 2015, a search for ‘pokemon’ on the Tee Turtle site returned at least 38 designs for apparel being actively marketed and sold by Tee Turtle,” said the suit.

The allegedly infringing designs included the main Pokémon characters: Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle. It added, “Many of the designs incorporate characters and other iconic visual elements derived from the Pokémon Company’s copyrighted Pokémon works.”

“Moreover, by actively soliciting users to submit designs which Tee Turtle then incorporates into the apparel it markets and sells, Tee Turtle materially contributes to the infringement of the Pokémon works by Tee Turtle’s ‘guest designers’,” added the claim.

Pokémon had been seeking a permanent injunction, punitive damages and an order to destroy the allegedly infringing goods.

At the end of September the companies settled their differences, and on Tuesday, October 3, District Judge Robert Lasnik signed an order to dismiss the suit. The complaint against Tee Turtle was dismissed with prejudice, and each party will bear their own attorneys’ fees and costs.

Japan-based Pokémon Company (the parent company of the US business) was established through a joint investment by Nintendo, Game Freak and Creatures (the copyright owners).

Video games maker Nintendo is active in protecting its IP rights.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Nintendo of America, the US subsidiary, opposed a trademark filed by an Oklahoma-based couple looking to use the name ‘Poké Go’ for clothing.

Nintendo owns a number of ‘Poké’-related trademarks, which have been registered since 2000, including a variety of ‘Pokémon’ marks used on clothing and electronics, known as its “Poké family”.

The US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board denied the couple’s application in August.


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