17/10/2003. Contributed by Jessica Martin
Wizards of the Coast and Pokemon scrap it out in a CCG deathmatch.
RPG firm Wizards of the Coast has - it appears - fallen out with Nintendo USA over the latter's Pokemon card game, which Wizards used to have exclusive rights to in Europe and the US (in fact, Wizards manufactured, marketed and distributed the game for the Asian giant).
And the reason for this rather unseemly corporate dust-up?
Well, soon after the agreement between the two companies ended, Wizards filed a suit in the District Court in Seattle alleging that Nintendo of America has been misappropriating trade secrets, infringing their patents and other esoteric corporate slights of hand (unjust enrichment, tortuous business interference blah blah blah).
Basically, Wizards alleges that Pokemon USA was involved in the defection of nine key WotC staff from Wizards over to the Pokemon team, including Richard Arons, Senior VP, and Rene Flores, their Marketing VP.
Of course, all the employees had the usual competitor non-disclosure clauses in their contracts.
Apparently, it was after the home team switched sides, that Wizards drew the conclusion that Nintendo/ Pokemon were planning to eat their lunch. Or, to quote from the suit:
"Pokemon USA used the intervening period to undermine its relationship with Wizards, deprive Wizards of the benefit of its bargain and take its intellectual property, all to gain competitive advantage over its long-time partner."
We have to say, this all seems a bit odd to us. If Wizards (now part of Hasbro) had launched their suit in the days when Pokemon was minting it in, you could understand the logic of their action. But Pokemon cards which once sold for a small fortune on eBay are now available for a small pile of diddly squat.
In fact, the CCG craze in general seems to us to have lost all its mass-market power-ups, and joined the once healthy RPG industry as the preserve of a small-gang of rabid fans and college geeks.
Maybe the two sides should decide who wins the case by sitting down together and drawing a couple of hands of 'Magic: The Gathering'?
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