Australian Court Halts Release of Pokémon NFTs amid Controversy over Use of Characters
In a legal victory for The Pokémon Company International (TPCi), an Australian federal court has barred local firm KOTIOTA Studio from releasing any non-fungible tokens (NFTs) featuring Pokémon characters. KOTIOTA, based in Parramatta, had been promoting itself as a Pokémon developer since the start of the year and claimed to be working on NFTs related to the franchise. However, TPCi enlisted the help of a cybersecurity firm to investigate KOTIOTA’s jurisdiction and discovered that the company had no staff working at its listed office location.
TPCi Seeks Court Order to Protect Pokémon Characters
Concerned about the potential damage to the Pokémon brand and its licensees, TPCi sought a court order to prevent KOTIOTA from releasing any unauthorized NFTs featuring Pokémon characters. In their affidavit, TPCi representative Katherine Fang provided provenance about the brand’s history and the popularity of its characters, and emphasized the company’s “deliberate decision” to stay away from NFTs despite the growing trend 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,” said court documents.
Court Rules in Favor of TPCi
Although KOTIOTA did not attend the proceedings, the court ruled that it had been legally served court papers and granted TPCi’s request for an injunction. No costs were issued against the defendants, and TPCi can now rest assured that unauthorized Pokémon NFTs will not be flooding marketplaces. It is unclear why TPCi has chosen not to enter the NFT market, but some members of the Pokémon community have speculated that the concept of scarcity goes against the ethos of the franchise. Others have argued that an official Pokémon NFT release could surpass leading digital collectibles such as Bored Ape Yacht Club.
Minecraft, another popular gaming franchise, made headlines in 2021 when it announced that it would be banning all NFT technology related to the game. In a blog post, the company cited the need for an “inclusive experience” for all players as the main reason for the ban.
“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.
KOTIOTA’s Role in the Pokémon Community
Despite the court’s ruling, it remains unclear what role, if any, KOTIOTA will play in the Pokémon community going forward. The company has a website that claims it is developing several Pokémon games, including Pokémon Violet and Pokémon Scarlet, but it is uncertain whether these projects will come to fruition.
Many fans of the Pokémon franchise will no doubt be relieved by the court’s decision to halt the release of unauthorized NFTs featuring beloved characters. As digital collectibles continue to gain popularity, it will be interesting to see how TPCi navigates the NFT market and whether it ultimately decides to enter the space. In the meantime, fans can continue to enjoy the classic Pokémon games and merchandise, safe in the knowledge that the integrity of the franchise is being protected.