The Pokémon Company has filed a lawsuit against six Chinese companies over a mobile game for “copyright infringement and unfair competitive conduct.” It is seeking more than $72 million in damages and demanding public apologies on major social media platforms, gaming websites and app stores. The proposed apology tour will include Sina.com, Tencent.com, and NetEase.com, as well as major mobile app stores.
Originally reported by The South China Morning Mail, Pocket Monster Reissue is a mobile game where you collect and fight non-Pokémon in a turn-based system with artwork showing “matches” to popular characters from the pokemon franchise, such as Ash Ketchum. Gameplay videos in Chinese video sites show that most trainable monsters are original designs, but a video featured a raw Clefable and Granbull. I also caught a glimpse of a character that appeared to be N from Pokemon Black and White. Kotaku has contacted Nintendo for comment, but has not received a response at the time of publication.
Pocket Monster Reissue has been operating in major Chinese app stores since 2015, according to a scholarship application from one of the defendants, Jiangyin Zhongnan Heavy Industries Co. The game made over $4 million a month in its first year, and the company’s profits have been increasing every year. Since the lawsuit was announced, the games and industrial pipe maker (I know!) 6 percent tumble on share price.
pokemon has only recently officially started to enter the Chinese market. Pokemon Sun and Moon were the first games to get official Chinese port. pokemon To go has been banned since 2017 due to road safety concerns, but that? has not stopped Chinese players of finding workarounds to play the game anyway. Even after decades without official game releases, pokemon is immensely popular in China. The summers of my own childhood were filled with illegal trading cards and plastic toys, so it’s not surprising that Reissue made millions each year from the IP.
Kotaku contacted Jiangyin Zhongnan Heavy Industries to ask if they expected Nintendo’s response when the game was originally released, but received no response at the time of publication.
Hopefully Zhongnan Heavy Industries will stick to making metal pipes instead of video games.