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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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 6:49pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 7:01pm

      Re:

      He's not gonna slit a puppy's throat... he's gonna slit Pikachu's throat.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      WorBlux, 2 Oct 2015 @ 7:48pm

      Re: Not really overkill

      5000 dollars for lawyers fees is actually on the cheap side for a copyright case.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 10:50pm

        Re: Re: Not really overkill

        Yeah throwing some paper around, not arguing anything in court, and pursuing damages against a target with no hope of paying them in the immediate future is very time consuming.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          mattshow (profile), 5 Oct 2015 @ 10:56am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Internet Zen Master (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 8:23pm

      Re:

      Seriously, this is worse than the old RIAA "sue everyone who MIGHT have downloaded a music file, even if isn't ours!" mentality back in the early 2000s.

      What the hell Pokemon Company International?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Smokachu, 3 Oct 2015 @ 12:30am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      pe-king-man, 3 Oct 2015 @ 8:55am

      Re:

      This is the END OF PO-KE-MON. Any mention of the name and the game is taboo.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark Wing, 2 Oct 2015 @ 7:01pm

    So much for the Pokemon-themed orgies I was going to promote. Now we'll have to do normal, non-creepy orgies. Thanks, Pokemon assholes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 7:06pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 7:21pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 7:36pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 7:43pm

      Re:

      Copyright deserves no respect. It is a monster and goes against its own principles.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 10:33pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Brazilian Guy, 3 Oct 2015 @ 5:10am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Ethos, 5 Oct 2015 @ 12:46pm

      Re:

      The astroturfers are out en masse for this one!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 7:30pm

    what a sad story! a fan trying to have fun and spread good cheer. poor guy can't even afford a lawyer like half of america. can someone help this guy? this is worthy of the popehat signal!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ahow628 (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 7:47pm

    New party idea

    Guys, I just got a new party idea. I'm going to throw a Davis Wright Tremaine party. I'll go as Stuart Dunwoody. My costume will be a gimp suit and I'll be fucking people up, both literally and figuratively. Thoughts?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Par-ty-mon, 3 Oct 2015 @ 9:16am

      Re: New party idea

      Do we really need Po-ke-mon to have a party? In fact, do we even want those absurd little hoakie po-ke mon-kies running around our par-ty at all?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 5 Oct 2015 @ 7:32am

        Re: Re: New party idea

        Have a Pirate party instead. There you can freely take the mickey out of unfair copyright laws, citing any fandom you like!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 2 Oct 2015 @ 7:54pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 8:39pm

    So now we know what makes TPCi take notice:

    1. Infringement of copyright
    2. Bringing guns to an international tournament with prior promises to use them on people

    Once again proving that in the eyes of copyright fanatics, copyright infringement is a crime where the severity is on par with mass murder.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2015 @ 10:24pm

    Someone who could stop this

    Does the Japanese branch of the company know about the American branch's actions? Maybe they can step in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      I Always Thought They Were Stoopid, 3 Oct 2015 @ 9:25am

      Re: Someone who could stop this

      Really, why would the Ja-Pa-Nese Branch of Po-Ke-Mon want to step in and stop the brutality of a swarm of law-yers bitch slapping an American par-ty-er at their expense?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Hang Up Yer Po-Ke-Mon Hat, 3 Oct 2015 @ 9:33am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2015 @ 3:34am

    lawyer is a bully who apparently gets off in ruining the lives of weaker people instead of just beating them up and stealing their money like a common mugger.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2015 @ 4:44am

    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.

    Losers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 3 Oct 2015 @ 6:56am

      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?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 4 Oct 2015 @ 9:51am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Leigh Beadon (profile), 4 Oct 2015 @ 11:44am

          Re: Re: Re:

          So in other words "if you're not a billionaire or a lawyer — or preferably a billionaire lawyer — then sit down and shut up, you get no say about anything"

          Nice.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Just Another Anonymous Troll, 3 Oct 2015 @ 12:02pm

      Re:

      If I made something popular I would be perfectly happy if someone decided to promote it for free.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2015 @ 5:13am

    I'm happy as shit he's getting sued for copyright infringement. This country is so screwed up because we have an entire country of morons who believe their entitled to have everything for free.

    If you don't want that loser to be sued, then YOU donate $4,000 so he can pay off his debt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2015 @ 9:28am

      Re:

      I'm happy as shit he's getting sued for copyright infringement

      Then you're a dick.

      This country is so screwed up because we have an entire country of morons who believe their entitled to have everything for free.

      Getting old, are you?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2015 @ 9:40am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2015 @ 6:03am

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2015 @ 8:22am

    My question is did they buy any costumes or already licensed items pre-printed banners with the logo or was it all homemade ... if the product was purchased then the fees have been paid by the company that sold them the items costumes cups or whatever.
    If this party was illegal then all children's parties should be as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    The Joker, 3 Oct 2015 @ 3:48pm

    irrigation

    The world needs an enema!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jameshogg (profile), 3 Oct 2015 @ 5:44pm

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2015 @ 6:52pm

    Gotta Sue Em' All! Copyright!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DigDug, 3 Oct 2015 @ 7:09pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daydream, 3 Oct 2015 @ 7:13pm

    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..."

    Option 3 (less reasonable): "TEAR IT DOWN, YOU %@$&ER, TEAR IT ALL DOWN RIGHT NOW! AND GIVE ME ALL YOUR MONEY! GIVE ME YOUR %@$&ING MONEY OR I'LL CUT YOU!!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    EdgyLlama, 4 Oct 2015 @ 9:40am

    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!
    Tremaine!
    Team Rocket, blast off at the speed of light!
    Surrender now, or prepare for a legal fight!
    Dunwoody!
    That's right!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 5 Oct 2015 @ 6:56am

    What about birthday parties?

    I know kids that throw character themed parties all the time, and kids attending are supposed to bring presents (which is a presumed cost of admission).

    Should we shut those down, too?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    J, 6 Oct 2015 @ 2:45am

    Good job on being neutral Mike

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 6 Oct 2015 @ 4:21pm

      Re:

      Good job on being neutral Mike


      Not sure what this comment even means? If you're suggesting that this article takes a position, uh, duh? Anyone who thinks that journalism is "neutral" is lying. We say what we believe and stand behind it. Have done so for nearly two decades.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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