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Pokémon GO Shows How to Augment Reality and your Intellectual Property

August 18, 2016

Authors: Noel Courage and Nicholas  Aitken

No video game has had more impact on communities than Pokémon GO. Within days of the augmented reality game’s release, Pokémon hunters were scouring every nook and cranny to find the elusive virtual creatures. Nintendo, which has 30% ownership in the Pokémon GO business, saw its share price more than double within two weeks of the game’s release. It then fell back to earth once Nintendo issued a reality check that the game was not going to have a significant short-term effect on earnings. The game has only limited purchasable content at this time, while its owners try to work out monetization strategies. At the heart of any monetization strategy is the Pokémon intellectual property ("IP").

The Pokémon GO IP is new, but the IP strategies used are not. This article will provide a brief overview of certain registered and unregistered augmented reality IP, focusing primarily on the Pokémon IP. It provides an interesting case study in protecting IP, because the basics are similar whether the IP is computer-related, mechanical, or life sciences. One can also see how the Pokémon IP has evolved over approximately two decades. 

Trademarks

In the days when Pokémon was a Game Boy game and trading cards, trademark registrations were filed to protect the brand name. The trademark provides the exclusive right to use the brand with the registered goods and services, which include the game itself and merchandise. Pokémon trademarks were registered in 1997 for software, programs, cartridges, trading cards, TV shows, magazines and merchandise [1].  

The Pokémon brands are famous and highly valuable, so extending the brand to Pokémon GO makes good business sense. Pokémon GO trademarks were also registered for the new game, such as Pokémon GO and Pokémon Moon [2]:

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Information on this website is for information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. You should not rely on, or take or not take any action, based upon this information. Professional legal advice should be promptly obtained. Bereskin & Parr LLP professionals will be pleased to advise you.

 

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