Nintendo Goes Copyright On Woman Making Pokemon-Inspired Planters
from the copyright-i-choose-you! dept
Update: We’ve had several folks communicate with us that Pokemon International does not exactly equal Nintendo. As best as we can tell, Pokemon International was in part founded by Nintendo, who retains some percentage of ownership, but Pokemon operates as a distinct entity and it was Pokemon International that sent the C&D. Thank you to everyone who made us aware of this.
We all know that Nintendo wraps itself in copyright law like some kind of really boring security blanket. Every once in a while, the company will make some noise about being more open and accommodating to its biggest fans and the like, but that noise is usually followed up by a rash of takedowns and C&D letters. The most recent battlefront Nintendo has entered in the war against its own fans is the floral planter arena. One woman, admittedly inspired by her love of the Pokemon game series, shared her design for a 3D printed planter on a commerce website.
Claudia Ng had recently purchased a 3D printer, and one of her first projects was to create the model for a Pokémon-themed planter for a friend. She posted it online, and it quickly went viral…She then put the design on Shapeways, a site that allows you to create and share your own 3D-printed objects, and once again the design blew up. It’s a simple idea, but one that we’ve yet to see in official merchandise. The game the design came from wasn’t named, but the listing made a few winking references to the Pokémon franchise. Sales went well, but of course it couldn’t last.
No, it couldn’t last, because Nintendo sent a cease and desist notice to Shapeways, indicating that the planter was infringing on its copyright. Shapeways complied and took the design down and all was just and right in Nintendo’s world again. This, by the way, is a picture of what corporate giant Nintendo was so determined to keep from spreading.
You can certainly see why Nintendo was so super-concerned, because if you squint just right, spin around three times, and are a little drunk, that thing looks like a bulbasaur with an artichoke coming out of its ass. It should be noted, by the way, that there’s no competing licensed product from Nintendo that’s taking sales away or anything. Not that that fact is keeping Nintendo from wanting all the money generated in addition to the takedown, of course.
“Shapeways got a cease and desist from Pokémon International for infringement. They received this on Friday, and Shapeways took it down within the last hour,” Ng told Polygon. “They are asking for all the money associated with this model and shapeways will not be printing or shipping any order for the past few days.” She may be put in contact with Pokémon International, and she’s not sure if anything will come from that potential meeting. This outcome isn’t very surprising for anyone involved. “I thought that this would fall under the boundaries of derivative and transformative work. I’m also not a lawyer, and I guess that is the least defined of rules and regulation,” she explained.
Against Nintendo, it’s unlikely a simple craftsperson like Ng will prevail. And, just to be clear, given the admitted inspiration by the Pokemon character, it’s not like Nintendo is exactly wrong that there is some infringement here. It’s just that there’s absolutely no reason to throw the legal hammer around instead of working out some kind of other arrangement with one of their biggest fans. But, hey, you know…Nintendo.