The Pokémon Company has filed suit against six Chinese mobile gaming companies, alleging copyright infringement and unfair competition in relation to a game called Pocket Monster Reissue (Koudaiyaoguai Fuke in Chinese).
The South China Morning Post reports that The Pokémon Company has filed an order with the Shenzen Intermediate People's Court to have Tencent, Huawei, and Xiaomi, among others, cease development and sales of Pocket Monster Reissue on mobile storefronts in mainland China. This comes ahead of the November release of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. It is also claiming $72.5 million in damages from the game's unauthorized operation, for which it is asking for 500 million yuan.
One of the companies, Jiangyin Zhongnan Heavy Industries, claimed in a stock exchange filing that it had been running Pocket Monster Reissue without The Pokémon Company's permission since the game's release in 2015. In 2016, the game made more than 300 million yuan in total revenue, with a monthly revenue of more than 30 million yuan. The company's market cap has increased to 6.1 billion yuan after its revenue increased to 481.6 million yuan over the past five years.
Since the case has not yet been heard in court, Zhongnan stated that it was "impossible to judge the impact on the current or future profits of the company." However, The Pokémon Company has demanded that the company and five others remove the game from mobile store apps and popular Chinese websites like Tencent.com and NetEase.com and apologize to players.
Despite The Pokémon Company licensing the series to a number of countries, some Pokémon games are unable to be distributed in China due to censorship laws and hazy regulations. It had previously banned Pokémon Go for safety reasons in 2017, but after Niantic partnered with NetEase to localize the game in the country, the ban was lifted the following year. In the past, China has banned or heavily regulated other Pokémon games due to content that is deemed offensive to the government and the culture of the country.