The Pokémon Company recently announced that it has commenced investigating whether another company’s game has infringed on its intellectual property rights. Specifically, it is looking into similarities between the popular Pokémon franchise and a new survival adventure game called Palworld.
Palworld, created by developer Pocket Pair, shares some striking resemblances to Pokémon. Both feature collections of fantastic creatures that can be tamed and battled. However, Palworld puts a twisted spin on the formula with the inclusion of firearms and other adult themes.
The Pokémon Company’s statement makes it clear they believe Palworld may be illegally using Pokémon’s intellectual property. With the backing of partial owners Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures, they are launching a full inquiry to determine if legal action should be pursued.
Reason for Investigation: Potential Infringement of Intellectual Property
Intellectual property enforcement in the gaming industry has long been a hot topic. As games grow into multi-billion dollar enterprises, companies aggressively defend their IPs which can be worth a fortune in licensing and merchandise.
Nintendo in particular is known for strictly policing its trademarks and copyrights. It has previously filed lawsuits against mobile games and fan projects it deemed too similar to properties like Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda.
By starting an investigation into Palworld, The Pokémon Company is signaling that it too will take drastic steps to protect one of the industry’s most valuable IPs. Pokémon is the highest-grossing media franchise ever, having earned over $100 billion with its games, cards, toys, and animated series.
As partial owners of The Pokémon Company, Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures all have a major stake in the Pokémon IP. So it’s not surprising they are also backing the investigation into Palworld.
Nintendo handles the publishing and distribution of the main series of Pokémon games. As the producer of Pokémon hardware like the Nintendo Switch, it has benefited greatly from Pokémon’s success. Nintendo also owns 32% of The Pokémon Company and would lose substantial revenue if the brand was ever severely weakened.
Game Freak has been the developer behind almost every main series Pokémon game. The company relies on Pokémon as its main source of income, so it wants assurances no brand erosion will occur from potential knock-offs. Finally, Creatures Inc. handles Pokémon merchandise and helped design many of the most iconic species. So it too has good reason to be involved.
Implications of the investigation on the game industry and intellectual property protection
If Palworld is found to have infringed on Pokémon’s IP, it would reinforce that companies can and will be punished for overly copying popular games. However, if Palworld is cleared, it may encourage more developers to push boundaries in taking inspiration from hits like Pokémon.
For better or worse, the outcome seems likely to influence future developer decisions and publisher policies around protecting intellectual property. Other major companies will be paying close attention to how forcefully The Pokémon Company pursues this case.
The Pokémon Company’s investigation into Palworld’s use of Pokémon IP has wide implications. It demonstrates how seriously major gaming companies take perceived infringement on their intellectual properties. With Nintendo supporting the investigation, it also shows how protective the company remains about its brands, and how aggressive it still is in enforcement.
If Palworld is found to have crossed legal lines, it would reinforce notions about companies strongly defending IPs. If Palworld is cleared, it could potentially inspire more games to borrow concepts from powerhouse franchises like Pokémon. In either case, the investigation highlights how critical IP issues continue to shape developer decisions and industry trends.