pokemon logo restricted

Australia court halts release of Pokémon NFTs amid row on use of characters

Pokémon Company International (TPCi) has secured victory in federal court against an Australian firm claiming to be the developer of the gaming franchise.

According to court documents, Parramatta-based developer KOTIOTA Studio had been parading itself as a Pokemon developer since the start of the year. In August, KOTIOTA sent a flurry of legal letters to news outlets seeking recognition on publications that the firm should be named as a Pokémon developer.

On its website, KOTIOTA said it was developing several Pokémon games, including Pokémon Violet and Pokémon Scarlet. The firm went on to claim that it was working on releasing non-fungible tokens (NFTs) related to the Pokémon Franchise, forcing the TPCi to take legal action.

TCPi enlisted the help of a cybersecurity firm that identified KOTIOTA’s jurisdiction as Australia, but surveillance of its office building revealed that the company did not have any staff working from the location. TCPi headed to a federal court in Australia to bar KOTIOTA from releasing any NFTs in the likeness of Pokémon characters.

In their affidavit deposed to by TCPI representative Katherine Fang, the original creators of Pokémon gave provenance about the brand’s history and the characters’ popularity. Fang reiterated that the company had taken the “deliberate decision” to stay away from NFTs despite the growing popularity of digital collectibles.

“TPCi is particularly concerned about the damage that TPCi, The Pokémon Company, Nintendo of America, Inc, the Nintendo Co. Ltd, and each of their licensees and consumers would suffer if the Respondents make the PokeWorld game available and/or issue Pokémon NFTs,” read the court documents.

Although KOTIOTA did not attend proceedings, the court ruled that they had been legally served court papers. Costs were not issued against the defendants, and with the court’s decision, TCPi can heave a sigh of relief that unauthorized Pokémon NFTs would not be flooding marketplaces.

Staying out of NFTs

It is unclear why TCPI is opting to stay out of NFTs, but some community members have suggested that the nature of scarcity runs contrary to the ethos of Pokémon. However, others have argued that an official Pokémon NFT release could surpass the leading digital collectibles like Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC).

Minecraft announced in 2021 that it would be banning all NFT technology relating to the game on the grounds that “all players should have access to the same functionalities.”

“To ensure that Minecraft players have a safe and inclusive experience, blockchain technologies are not permitted to be integrated inside our client and server applications, nor may Minecraft in-game content such as worlds, skins, persona items, or other mods,” said Minecraft in a blog post.

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