Popular online store RedBubble, based in Melbourne and San Francisco, is facing court in Australia for selling merchandise using Pokemon names and characters without permission.
The website allows artists to upload their own designs, which are then manufactured and shipped to the buyer via a third party. Redbubble submitted documents stating that any copyright violations are the artist’s responsibility, and that artists are advised to obtain consent from rights holders before uploading images to Redbubble. The case resumed on March 7, and will set an interesting precedent for many other art websites which allow Pokemon-inspired merchandise.
This is not the first time Pokemon has forced online stores to remove Pokemon-inspired goods, or sought damages for use of copyright creatures. One of the most famous cases is that of a fan attempting to hold a Pokemon-themed party at PAX in 2015. The fan was ordered to pay thousands of dollars in damages, even though the party was cancelled. Artists using the 3D printing service Shapeways and the art site Etsy to sell goods featuring Pokemon have also been served with cease and desist letters in the past.