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News video games 16 March 2024, 05:45

author: Jacob Blazewicz

„No One Likes Suing Fans.” Ex-Pokemon Lawyer Explains Reasons and Methods Behind Blocking Fan Projects

Don McGowan, former head of The Pokemon Company's legal team, explained the process of blocking fan games.

Source: Pikachu EX / Pokemon TCG / The Pokemon Company.

Nintendo deserves recognition for its incredibly engaging games, developed with an approach that sets it apart from the rest of the industry. However, you get the impression that even in the best of times, the company irritates players with actions aimed at its own fans.

Don McGowan is an experienced lawyer. For 12 years, he worked for The Pokémon Company, and for half a decade, he led the company's legal team. Microsoft also used his services before. He recently made strong statements about the accusations of "plagiarism" supposedly committed by the developers of Palworld.

Now the American was a guest on Aftermath. One of the questions he was asked concerned the "cease and desist" orders that The Pokemon Company and Nintendo have a practice of sending to some devs of Pokemon fan games (via Reddit).

„No One Likes Suing Fans.” Ex-Pokemon Lawyer Explains Reasons and Methods Behind Blocking Fan Projects - picture #1
Some of the fan-made "Pokemons" were removed after TPC's intervention, but a few of them were revived. Source: Pokemon Uranium.

It turns out that McGowan usually received links from these companies referring to articles about such projects, or he came across mentions of them himself. That's why, as a lawyer teaches his students at the University of Washington, "the worst thing on earth is when your "fan" project gets press, because now I know about you."

However, the "discovery" of the fan project isn't everything. Next, the TPC legal team checks whether it has received funding (on Kickstarter, Patreon, or in any other way). This is said to be due to the fact that - to quote McGowan - "No one likes suing fans."

The community isn't really reassured by this assurance (even Luke Plunket from the Afrermath service, who spoke with McGowan, doesn't believe the lawyer). The Nexus Mods site still prohibits the release of "Pokemon" mods for Palworld, out of concern that even free modifications will draw the wrath of The Pokemon Company's lawyers if they use the resources owned by the company.

Jacob Blazewicz

Jacob Blazewicz

Graduated with a master's degree in Polish Studies from the University of Warsaw with a thesis dedicated to this very subject. Started his adventure with in 2015, writing in the Newsroom and later also in the film and technology sections (also contributed to the Encyclopedia). Interested in video games (and not only video games) for years. He began with platform games and, to this day, remains a big fan of them (including Metroidvania). Also shows interest in card games (including paper), fighting games, soulslikes, and basically everything about games as such. Marvels at pixelated characters from games dating back to the time of the Game Boy (if not older).