Perkins Coie, on behalf of The Pokemon Company International (TPCi), is claiming leaks of Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield have caused “irreparable injury” to the company, and that they are entitled to damages from the leakers. Whoever they are.
Prior to the release of Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, images from a then-unreleased strategy guide revealed several evolved and Gigantimaxed Pokemon- essentially revealing new Pokemon while Game Freak and TPCi were attempting to keep them a surprise for players. The posts allegedly first went to the r/Pokemon Discord server, before ending up on 4Chan, Twitter, and social media.
The lawsuit from Perkins Coie (who have previously worked for Google) claim this is akin to stealing trade secrets. Since the industry aims to entice potential customers with information being released to the public at the right time (or not at all), Perkins Coie argue that the leaks “threaten this value and undermine the carefully cultivated excitement and interest TPCi and its partners have worked so hard to generate. It also ruins the surprise for hundreds of thousands of Pokemon fans who are eagerly anticipating the release of the new game.”
Continuing, Perkins Coie state that they are seeking “all appropriate relief including but not limited to injunctive and monetary relief, damages, an accounting, and attorney’s fees” on behalf of TPCi. There is only one snag. Perkins Coie have no idea who the leakers are.
Aside from several Discord username, the suit officially lists as “John/Jane Does 1-3”. Nonetheless, the suit claims it identified four Discord users after hiring a digital forensic expert to find them. They believe one user supplied the images to the other “defendants.” They are currently awaiting to see if the courts will permit a subpoenas to Discord and 4Chan to help identify the users.
While the defendants have most likely broken US law, the question begs what damage was caused. Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield sold 1.36 million copies at retail in its first three days in Japan, and later six million copies worldwide after its first week. Some may even argue that seeing these Pokemon may have helped cement some gamers interest in the games, but that is for the courts to decide.
Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield are out now on Nintendo Switch. In case you missed it, you can find our review here.
Image: Pokemon (Anime).