Aug. 19, 2014 | By Alec

Over the past weekend, Pokémon enthusiast and artist Claudia Ng suddenly faced Japanese giants Nintendo over the copyright of her first 3D creations. Having recently started working with a 3D printer, she designed and created a planter that closely resembles fan-favourite Pokémon Bulbasaur.

While the popular Pokémon franchise resulted in countless toys and miniatures, a planter resembling a 'Pocket Monster' was never released by Nintendo. Originally made as a present for a friend, Claudia Ng also posted the design on Shapeways, a leading community and marketplace for 3D printing.

The Original Reddit famous Bulbasaur Planter

Unsurprisingly, the simple yet original design was a hit and sales went well. Of course the popular franchise wasn't named, though insinuations were made. Its generic design was also like by people who did not immediately recognise the Pokémon. In an interview with Polygon, the artist remarked that many people instead 'commonly recognized [it] as a Fat Cat. I've also had requests to do other animals and creatures.' But of course, this success couldn't last without Nintendo catching on.

'Shapeways got a cease and desist from Pokémon International for infringement. They received this on Friday, and Shapeways took it down within the last hour,' Ng explained to Polygon. 'They are asking for all the money associated with this model and Shapeways will not be printing or shipping any order for the past few days.'

However, all of this did not come as a great surprise to the designer. 'I thought that this would fall under the boundaries of derivative and transformative work. I'm also not a lawyer, and I guess that is the least defined of rules and regulation,' she commented. 'It's not that surprising. I just expected that they would go after people with more infringing designs.'

In the near future the artist may continue talks with Pokémon International, likely to discuss the repercussions and consequences of this copyright claim. She also hopes to discuss a potential line of Pokémon planters, but only time can tell if anything like that will materialize. Perhaps a whole line of Grass-type Pokémon planters can be released? As many other fans, including those on Reddit, were inspired by Claudia Ng, Nintendo could have discovered a whole new market.

Low Poly Bulbasaur Planter made by Hitsman

 

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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FXengineer wrote at 1/4/2015 10:23:46 AM:

The problem was not that she made one, or even that she gave it as a gift. The problem is she knowingly and intentionally modeled this on the Intellectual Property of Pokemon and put it up for commercial gain. Whether or not some people could mis-recognize it as a "fat cat" or some piece of other art is irrelevant because the original and clear intention was to profit off of the popularity of work that she did not originally create and did not attempt to obtain the proper legal licence for. The very fact that it was "loosely hinted at" so as not to directly say it was Pokemon proves she knew she was doing something wrong. Just because its some big company that owns Pokemon doesn't mean that your not ripping off some artist that worked hard and applied their talent to create something. If you're truly a fan of something, you want it to succeed and thrive. And stealing from them isn't the work of true fans. Create whatever you want, but do it for yourself and stick to making money at your legal job!

Max wrote at 11/8/2014 12:02:11 PM:

So I can take any Pokemon fan art, print it and sell it. Let's prohibit any fan art =) What a problem...

GS wrote at 8/27/2014 8:36:02 PM:

If it's not advertised or in any way associated with Nintendo or one of its characters then I think it's fair game to sell this as a "fat cat". The fact that is has a similar - not exact - likeness to a Nintendo character could be taken as "coincidence". To liken this example to the counterfeit LV purses market, etc., is NOT the same thing at all.

anon wrote at 8/21/2014 12:10:04 AM:

Nintendo only holds a 30% share in the Pokemon Company.

alidan wrote at 8/20/2014 2:54:05 AM:

the way i see it, the moment you mass produce something, whether that is selling the data to be made, or selling the end product, that is a no go... HOWEVER, a one off "i made this" or a small "contact me and we will work it out" kind of thing is a little more... acceptable.

Jay wrote at 8/19/2014 9:38:56 PM:

The problem is they are using the "painting copy" as comparison...but they're forgetting this is new digital technology. How many people have an 'unlicensed' Pokemon, Superman, Mercedes, or super model on their computer desktop? How many have taken shots that otherwise would have been 'copyrighted' (concert, art exhibit..etc) and have that on their computer or hanging on the wall? This is an actual physical object but most people (on Thingiverse and other places) are treating it like a digital product. I know this one is a no-no because they were selling them off shapeways...but Nintendo could have handled this better....or maybe that was intentional.....free press and now everyone's printing them. Maybe they took a no-win event and made it a win for publicity ???

matt42 wrote at 8/19/2014 8:10:07 PM:

I'm going to print a few now while listening to a Barbara Streisand torrent I recently downloaded ;)

JSJ wrote at 8/19/2014 3:03:52 PM:

First, the problem with copyright/trademark law is if if you don't protect your copyright or trademark, you loose your copyright or trademark. It's the reason Xerox and Kleenex can't protect their names anymore. Second, she was making money off of someone else's work. If you created a painting and someone duplicated it and sold it without sharing profits you'd be ticked off too. The Internet gets mad at American Apparel every time they rip off someone's work on Etsy. How is this different? Third, someone who breaks their planter or doesn't like something about it will get mad at Nintendo. Most people don't understand. I've seen folks get angry at Rolex because their counterfeit watch breaks. Or mad at the cable company when a network cancels a show. There will be more and more of these as 3D printing becomes even more popular.

DAR wrote at 8/19/2014 2:09:32 PM:

Usual heavy-handed response, no doubt inspired by over-zealous lawyers looking to generate new trade. And unaware of, or deliberately ignoring, the Streisand Effect. Wouldn't be surprised if the Bulbasaur planter appeared everywhere shortly.



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