Pokemon sues Chinese game devs for $72m over knockoff mobile games

Terry Oh
Pokemon China Rip OffThe Pokemon Company

The Pokemon Company is taking legal action against Chinese game developers, accusing them of ripping off their intellectual property by blatantly stealing footage and marketing it as their own.

Video game piracy is rampant in China. The lawsuit claims Chinese Game Developers took visual assets from The Pokemon Company, marketing their mobile game using content originally from Pokemon.

Their app icon was the Pokemon Yellow box art, and its in-game graphics literally used Ash Ketchum alongside other iconic Pokemon starters. An image showcasing exactly this can be found on South China Morning Post, where the story was originally reported.

In an attempt to retaliate, The Pokemon Company took legal action against six Chinese companies for the mobile game: Pocket Monster Reissue. The total amount they are suing for is $72 million (USD).

The mobile game, though not very well known in western regions, is rather successful in China.

A poster for the Summer Cup in Pokemon GoNiantic
Many pokemon games, such as Pokemon Go, were never released in China due to government censorship

According to the South China Morning Post, which sourced the figures from Zhongnan Heavy Industries’ financial report, “By 2016, a year after its release, the game had racked up more than 300 million yuan of total turnover, with monthly turnover exceeding 30 million yuan.”

And in 2021, “the company’s revenue rose 24.5 percent year-on-year to 481.6 million yuan, while net income surged nearly 58 percent to 207.2 million yuan.”

From these figures alone, it’s abundantly clear the developers made a sizeable sum of money out of their mobile game.

On top of the $72 million, The Pokemon Company also wants a public apology from the defendants.