Pokemon Wants To Totally Bankrupt One Of Its Biggest Fans, Thanks To Copyright

from the how-nice-of-them dept

Back at the end of August, we wrote about a ridiculous situation in which the Pokemon Company decided to sue two fans in Seattle who had set up a Pokemon-themed party leading into the big PAX conference. As soon as the threats came down, these guys shut down the party entirely, but the Pokemon Company would not be stopped in its determination to totally bankrupt and destroy such a big fan who was out there promoting Pokemon and Pokemon culture. The company, represented by big copyright maximalist law firm Davis Wright Tremaine, went forward with the ridiculous lawsuit anyway. While they dismissed one guy from the lawsuit, the other, Ramar Larking Jones, didn’t hire a lawyer, saying he had no money for it.

End result is that the Pokemon Company is demanding $4,000 from Jones by November or they say they’ll make things even worse. Some of the reporting on this suggests that Jones has lost the case already, but that’s not true. Basically, a lawyer from Davis Wright Tremaine (who should question how he sleeps at night), Stuart Dunwoody, is bullying Jones, who says he’s just a broke fan of Pokemon. Dunwoody told Jones that Pokemon is willing to “settle” the case for $5,400 and sent him a “final judgment and permanent injunction” for Jones to review. This is not from the judge. This is from Dunwoody, who will submit it to the judge and hope the judge just signs off on it. And, of course, if he gets Jones to agree to this “settlement”, that’s what the judge will do. Apparently Dunwoody has agreed to accept a $4,000 settlement, but only if the amount is paid by mid-November. Jones has been asking if he can spread it out over a year, noting that he’s basically broke and works in a cafe.

Jones, for his part, still doesn’t appear to have a lawyer (note: this is a mistake), and has set up a GoFundMe page, trying to raise the $4,000 to pay off Davis Wright Tremaine and Dunwoody (who probably bills more than $4,000 per day for doing this kind of shakedown).

Yes, you can argue that perhaps Jones should not have thrown a “Pokemon-themed” party or used Pokemon characters on the poster, but, really? Does anyone honestly think there is any legitimate harm done here to the Pokemon Company? Especially compared to the reputation it will get for bankrupting someone who appears to be one of its biggest fans (or was). This whole thing is shameful, and the Pokemon Company, Davis Wright Tremaine and Stuart Dunwoody should feel bad about this. They’re bankrupting one of Pokemon’s biggest fans who was trying to share his love for Pokemon. How does that help anyone, other than Dunwoody’s billing hours?

As Jones writes on his GoFundMe: “Trust me I will never throw another fandom party again.” Congrats, Stuart Dunwoody. Another fan disillusioned. You must be so proud.

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Companies: davis wright tremaine, pokemon company

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Comments on “Pokemon Wants To Totally Bankrupt One Of Its Biggest Fans, Thanks To Copyright”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

The Pokémon Company International, Inc. should get new representation. This is vindictive and overkill.
You killed the damn party, and kicking someone while they are down, even if you are within your rights, makes you the cartoon villain.
Would you like to slit a puppys throat to prove to everyone you are really really serious?

Good job giving your fandom yet another reason to consider a different brand, because showing you any loyalty or interest will result in asshattery in a legal setting.

mattshow (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Not really overkill

Well, this lawyer probably bills out at least $500/hour. $5,000 is like a day’s worth of work.

I’m not defending the Pokémon Company’s actions here. If I was them, I’d be eating this cost just to avoid the bad publicity they’re going to get now (or, you know, just not filing the lawsuit in the first place).

I’m just saying, it doesn’t have to be very time consuming to add up to $5,000.

Smokachu says:

Re: Re:

Don’t you think it’s a bit overboard comparing a dead puppy to 4000 bucks? TCPi might be jerks for this lawsuit, but they aren’t going for millions. It’s a reasonable amount to act as a deterrent to future “offenders”, but not so much that it’s going to bankrupt a person. Looking at this entire situation, I must say the people involved are not very smart. They SHOULD have known better. On that basis I find myself having little sympathy. TCPi have been quite up front about the use of their materials since day one, even going so far as to have high quality images of their shows taken down off of websites that they have not approved of. If the people who held the party genuinely did not know, they should have. But I think they likely did know, and there is a good chance this whole endeavor was just to get publicity for PAX.

Anonymous Coward says:

The moron was dumb enough to charge for admission, he didn’t get permission from the copyright holder, he purchased a personal Amazon Fire and he ran the event for years without compensating TPC. he got what he deserved, violating someone’s copyright in order to gain something personal from it.

Making the excuse that TPC is bankrupting a fan is so disingenuous that it defies description.

He knew what he was doing was wrong and yet he kept right on doing that. I don’t have any sympathy for that idiot. Perhaps he shouldn’t have charged anything and he surely shouldn’t have used copyrighted and licensed characters, then he wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Well it’s not so much of a question on what they did wrong (and they were) it’s more of a question of morals on the part of the company. There’s almost no reason at all to pursue them for copyright infringement outside of “Make a point.” and the good old “Protect at any cost”. At this point you might think that by suing them they’re doing more harm to their business then protecting it.

Smokachu says:

Re: Re: Re:

Alcohol was served at the party. Let’s say even just one person had too much to drunk and threw a punch at someone. You know as well as I do the headlines will read “Punch Drunk Pokemon Party”, or something to that effect. Does Pokemon need that free advertisement? In America, where it’s considered to be a children’s product?

But also think about this. Let’s say you came up with an idea, promoted it and made it a success, and someone else started using your idea without your permission. Without even asking you. Would you be so eager to let it go?

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

But also think about this. Let’s say you came up with an idea, promoted it and made it a success, and someone else started using your idea without your permission. Without even asking you. Would you be so eager to let it go?

Oh gosh, ol’ Frank down the street is copyin’ my small business!

Give me a break. Let’s “think about this” in realistic terms:

Let’s say you came up with an idea 20 years ago. That idea became insanely popular — a massive global phenomenon — and made you filthy rich, and grew into a huge company that did $2-billion in retail sales alone last year. You have millions of fans all around the world, many of whom have grown up with your idea their entire lives, and consider it among their favourite cultural artifacts, and continue to make you rich by celebrating it and buying expensive merchandise and continuing to play every new iteration. Then one of those fans decided to throw a party for your idea, for all the people who have spent lots and lots of money on it over the years, to express their love for it.

Would you be so eager to destroy his life?

Anonymous Coward says:

This has nothing to do with the morals of a company but rather the blatant disregard that one person showed for the copyright that someone else owned.

If I went on vacation, I don’t expect my neighbors to have free reign of my home and use it for a block party just because I’m not using it.

The same thing happened with this moron who decided to throw a Pokemon party. Did he ever think to ask for permission from TPC? Hell no. Because he knew they would say no. A Pokemon party thrown at a bar or a pub is not an appropriate venue for a party revolving around a children’s anime show.

TPC isn’t protecting at any cost, but rather discouraging other people from acting in such disregard for using something that was created by someone else without compensating those people who own the copyrights to that content.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

do you pay property taxes based on the value of your real property and, in turn, get protection from the government to protect said property?

why should imaginary property owners get the benefits of government protection and not have to pay for it?

just imagine the amount of revenue that could be brought in from taxes if ip was taxed based on its “value”

you want indefinite copyright? fine, pay for it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“This has nothing to do with the morals of a company-“
I’m gonna stop you there, because it does. The ONLY thing the Pokemon Company should have done if they truly felt there was a danger was send out a C&D (serving as a warning), ask for the ticket money they made, just told them not to put Pikachu on the poster, and NOTHING ELSE. Alternatively, they could have loopholed their way around the trademark defend-or-die clause, of which many such workarounds. Instead, they got manipulated by a capitalist legal firm to pull the trigger without considering alternatives. I really hope either Nintendo or the Japanese branch of the Pokemon Company steps in to backhand PUSA for their idiocy.

“If I went on vacation, I don’t expect my neighbors to have free reign of my home and use it for a block party just because I’m not using it.”
There’s a difference between physical and non-physical property- while physical can indeed be utilised as there’s only one copy, non-physical (intellectual) can’t, as they can be pulled from the ether of nothingness. In other words, your example doesn’t really fit the situation.

Brazilian Guy says:

Re: Re:

Well, those children have been around for almost twenty years, and want their parties like that. Also, those 20 something’s are now the majority of the fan base, and it’s their children who will be the next wave of loyal purchasers. They are aware of it with the new Pokemon Go. And yet, their legal department will throw the public goodwill with the brand on the floor.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Twisting the knife

At this point this has nothing to do with ‘protecting’ their stuff, they’re just making an example out of someone who can’t fight back, simply because they can.

I can’t help but suspect that if he was able to fight back, by retaining a lawyer, they would be a lot less bloodthirsty, and a lot more willing to just drop the matter now that the party has been killed off. But with no lawyer, they know they can make whatever claims they want, and he has no way of knowing whether or not they’re valid.

Hang Up Yer Po-Ke-Mon Hat says:

Re: Re: Someone who could stop this

It shouldn’t or wouldn’t be infringement upon a copyright to seek to throw a Po-Ke-Mon Enthusiast Re-Union Party even charging admission to cover costs. You could send the President of Pokemon International an invitation. Do you think he or she would sue you for that? I wouldn’t invite any lawyers though.

Anonymous Coward says:

Talk about a bunch of losers here. When you guys hear someone shout copyright “infringement”, you guys get tunnel vision and attack people who protect their copyrights, even if someone is violating their copyright.

Not only that but you guys seem to have a sense of entitlement that everything should be free. When you create something that turns into a huge windfall, let’s see how well you handle that “entitlement” when other people violate your copyright.


Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

When you create something that turns into a huge windfall, let’s see how well you handle that “entitlement” when other people violate your copyright.

Well, I can only talk about this site. It may not be “a huge windfall” but it’s doing alright. And I encourage anyone to use any of the content for any reason by saying it’s all in the public domain.

So, yeah, not everyone thinks that their own work, even when successful, must be blocked off and “owned.” It’s pretty sad that you think otherwise. Are you a lawyer by any chance?

David says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well, I can only talk about this site. It may not be “a huge windfall” but it’s doing alright. And I encourage anyone to use any of the content for any reason by saying it’s all in the public domain.

“doing alright” does not make you qualified to speak about the predicament of people whose creation starts printing more cocaine than an elephant can snort in both his trunk and behind.

Once the lawyers have talked sense into you, you’ll turn over and pant like a president-elect on his first briefing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That’s very short-sighted. What did these guys do that cost TPCi physical dollars? Did they expect and demand physical supplies to carry out their party? Were copies of Pokemon-related items physically removed and stolen?

You seem to be going for a very, very long stretch to make an angry point that isn’t particularly relevant. If you want to go after people for using Pokemon in a way not licensed or supported by TPCi, here’s a newsflash: people have been doing that since 1998. Spinoffs, version hacks, even an online battling system that was put in place long ago before Game Freak managed it properly for the 3DS, and can be argued to replace the most important part of the franchise – that is, battling. And yet somehow TPCi has never gone after any of the above. Not even for the fuckton of home-made Pokemon-themed snacks, arts and crafts. No, all this just looks like picking at low-hanging fruit that you seem to want to turn into this massive victory against copyright infringement.

Get over yourself. Your precious RIAA lost that war years ago until they finally realized that suing kids was a dumb move to get their idea across, long after they took a massive dump on their own reputations. And they deserved it.

Anonymous Coward says:

what is even more tragic is that the Pokemon people haven’t stepped in here and done ‘the right thing’, stop the law suit, given permission for the party which surely can do nothing but good and keep the bad feeling and comments out of the media, as well as pissing off fans. why shoot yourself in the foot at every opportunity?

jameshogg says:

Some comments on here right now remind me of the sort of people who throw lawsuit papers at cosplayers as they walk into anime conventions because they think they’re justified in fighting a system where convention holders profit without artists’ permission for have characters cosplayed.

Yeah, that does happen, but so what? The world doesn’t revolve around artists. I know that’s a little hard for morons to grasp. Especially when they’re trying to sue innocent fans for thought-crime.

Gonna go after deviantArt next? Is there no low to which you will not sink?

DigDug says:

File criminal blackmail charges against Dunwoody

His impersonation of a Judge (what would you call it when he writes a letter making out to sound like the case has already been tried and over) demanding that he pay up is clearly illegal (blackmail) and stinks of mafia like corruption. Perhaps the entire office should be brought up on RICO charges…

Honestly, if I were of less than stirling character, I’d be tempted to suggest that someone pay the 50 bucks that we all know would pay for an early retirement party for Dunwoody. It is certainly an interesting thought exercise in Karma, one that nobody should take seriously.

Daydream says:

Is this a good metaphor?

Imagine you’re a celebrity. You have a fancy house, built your own specifications.
Someone in the next city over decides that your house is awesome.
They take the time to build a perfect replica of the outside of your house, and charge a fee for people to ‘come in and enjoy the [celebrity] experience’.
What do you say to this person who made a copy of your house?

Option 1 (reasonable): “Huh, neat. I didn’t know so many people thought my house was so awesome. Do you want to know more about it?”

Option 2 (reasonable): “Where’s my share? It’s a copy of my house, you’re making money off it, I want my part too. Can I have an ice cream? I like ice cream…”


EdgyLlama says:

Team Rocket

I think Team Rocket is behind this…

Prepare for trouble!
Make it double!
To protect the world from copyright exploitation!
To sue all peoples within our nation!
To denounce the evils of parody and fan love!
To extend our reach to 120 years and above!
Davis Wright!
Team Rocket, blast off at the speed of light!
Surrender now, or prepare for a legal fight!
That’s right!

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