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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Pokémon Company International's Trade Secrets vs. THE LEAKERS

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - A valiant and necessary crusade to be settled with the courts’ help. (No spoilers in this article text, by the way.)

Almost two weeks ago on November 22, 2019, The Pokémon Company International (TPCi—they're in charge of managing the Pokémon series intellectual property), through their legal representatives at Perkins Coie LLP, submitted court documentation to the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington versus John/Jane Does 1–3. (They're probably all Johns, calling it now.) Why? Because they're LEAKERS and helped sabotage the release of Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield by gaining access to the Pokémon Sword and Shield: The Official Galar Region Strategy Guide (to be released November 22) and dumping many pictures of it to the Internet on November 1, which bad websites took and spread in front of your face, obliterating TPCi's carefully-crafted marketing plan for the game releasing November 15. Perhaps that's why they revealed the Galarian starter evolutions weeks after the game's release.

I made it clear that I don't like reading spoilers about Pokémon Sword or Pokémon Shield in my article where I wrote about how I'm not getting the game. In their documentation, which is itself filled with spoilers in the form of almost 80 pages of screenshot exhibits at the end, TPCi made clear that they carefully timed their announcements to maximise fan excitement and anticipation over the games (as opposed to the uncareful timing back in Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon), and it's quite damaging for the leakers to break that.

More to the point, the co-defendants, for now only known as WolfenX#5356 (no longer a valid Discord name), the mysterious and unknown WolfenX#5356's source, and Uxinator#3307; knew exactly what they were doing. (There is also another guy named DimensioNz#3307, but TPCi isn't suing him...yet.) Through some combination of those people, they willfully violated non-disclosure agreements and TPCi's security mechanisms (detailed in the court documents, including background checks, tarps, key cards, passwords, and internal digital rights management. They pretty much kept the strategy guides and game files in a Team Rocket Headquarters-style puzzle contraption) to keep the game's unrevealed Pokémon and other details as a secret. Obviously, someone or some people broke civil laws along the way, and TPCi is well within their right to go after them.

Reddit Pokemonthrowawayleak Pokémon Sword Shield Leaks copyright notice
The pokemonthrowawayleak Reddit account was referenced in the court document.
Now, you tell me, if someone didn't know their actions were wrong, why would they make a throwaway account for the sole purpose of leaking?
(Of course, the copyright notice came from TPCi.)

Quite frankly, being a corporate leaker should not just get you fired, but it should keep you unemployable. (Why would you hire one if they're proven to be untrustworthy?) Leakers are scum. I wrote an article years back about why and the bad effects they bring to the universe, and I stand by that. Media outlets that enable the leakers and give them power are similarly scum, which is why I don't write stuff about that content.

How does The Pokémon Company International plan to actually get something out of this lawsuit? See this secondary court documentation. In court proceedings, there is a discovery phase, and that allows plaintiffs to obtain information (and share with the defence) on the case, including having access to the court's subpoena power. That makes the court require a party to provide documentation or testimony. In this case, TPCi is calling on Discord and 4chan. Specifically, “Subpoenas to Discord, 4chan and DimensioNz#3307 should yield identification information behind the primary leaker, WolfenX#5356, as well as Uxinator#3307 and potentially WolfenX’s source.” Should the court grant and issue those subpoenas, Discord and 4chan will have to provide things like IP addresses for those people.

Eventually, with enough information and knowing people's identities, TPCi will know who the source of the leak is... and make their life a lot more difficult. As it should be.

This is necessary, by the way. In order to be deemed a trade secret and be granted legal protection as such, a company needs to demonstrate that they tried to keep it a secret and protect it. Lawsuits and having non-disclosure agreements are part of that. They must do this to maintain the integrity of the Pokémon intellectual property.

It has little to do, so far, with people getting the game early from retailers breaking the street date, and then streaming a hacked game to make it look bad before it's out. That's also very wrong of people to do, by the way, and there's no defending it.

An aside: If you're one of those people who are trying to defend infringement of intellectual property, especially with dumb claims like #GAMEFREAKLIED, “if they have the time to go after these leakers they should've made the game better”, “the judge should throw the suit out because the game has sold many millions of copies, the idea there's any damage is laughable!” or some other vapid comment not grounded in the facts, I'll know you didn't read the article, or you're just not a serious thinker. The Pokémon Company International? Not game developers. The game sold well? Great, that's in spite of this, and it still affects the brand overall and threatens basic ability to keep confidentiality within an organisation until the leakers are ratted out. That's incredibly impairing.

Ludwig actually gets pleasure from thinking about leakers suffering, which is a bit odd and even scary, but that's the kind of Koopa your author is. He took this long to write this article because he actually read through all of the court documents he referred to, as well as researched the underlying statutes. TPCi is in the right here, both legally and morally. Ludwig dislikes that TPCi's law firm doesn't use the Oxford Comma.

The next day, Ludwig gives an example of a lawsuit that... isn't valiant.
One of the exhibits in the court filing was about Centiskorch, who is now officially revealed.
This lawsuit is actually going places!
KoopaTV will continue not to publicise information obtained from illegal leaks.
The leakers have been identified, named, and must pay a six-figure settlement.


  1. What are your thoughts on #ThankYouGameFreak?

    Imagine an Ace Attorney case with a story similar to this case. Maybe it can be about a Blue Badger video game getting leaked. The defendant is the person suspected of being the leaker as the real leaker murdered an employee of the video game company. Maybe seeing this in a fictional setting will get people who defended the leaks to understand why it is wrong to defend breaking the non-disclosure contract.

    1. I think it's a perfectly fine hashtag. GAME FREAK went through a lot of crap over the past several months, much of it outside of their control. Pokémon games are a big deal for that fanbase, so to the extent they like the game, then it's fine to pass nice words along!

      Would it be sympathetic to the leakdom if the leaker was murdered by the company because they broke the non-disclosure agreement? (Or were about to break it?)


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