Does Nintendo own Pokémon?

It has been a debate that has circled the internet and confused gamers, the public and more specifically, Nintendo stockholders. Does Nintendo own Pokémon? It may be a strange question, but it became a hotly debated topic when Pokémon Go was released. A direct result of the augmented reality game was the massive increase in stock prices of Nintendo. Thus, the public started to connect the two. In fact, a little digging tells us that the Nintendo Pokémon association has always been there, and it is easy to see why.

Apart from one or two mobile ventures, Pokémon characters have only ever appeared on Nintendo games, most notably Nintendo ds Pokémon Smash Bros. The companies name also appears in the copyright notice of anything associated with Nintendo, all adding to the association. The truth is that Nintendo is one of the owners and possibly holds the most shares. But what about the actual Pokémon company? If both Creatures and Game Freak (Co-owners of the company) have equal shares, it would mean that Nintendo would have a 33% stake in the business.

Share Percentages

At the same time if the Pokémon company decided to take their ball and licence its brand to online betting sites, there really is nothing that Nintendo can do about it, right? Well no, in fact, the biggest misconception is that the Pokémon own the brand. In fact, they do not. They licence the brand, they manage the brand they publish the games. The Pokémon company also operate stores and produce card games, toys and other Pokémon branded merchandise. They appear on the copyright notices but the fact the remains that they don’t own the bran, they simply act as its agent.

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The Pokémon company serve the brand in the interest of all the companies that own it. The fact that Game Freak, Creatures and Nintendo all have near-equal shares in the Pokémon company doesn’t reveal who actually own the Pokémon franchise in precise proportion. It all comes down to the size of the ownership really. We do know that Nintendo is the sole owner of the Pokémon trademark. This included every Pokémon character down to Pikachu himself. This is a fairly typical set for publishers who work with second or third party companies.

Majority Holdings

Now let’s take a look at Game Freak. They are a third-party developer who released a number of games before working on Pokémon. This is where the IP was established, equally between Game Freak and Nintendo. The actual split is not known but it is safe to assume that Nintendo would have gone for nothing less than a 50% share. It has also come to light that Nintendo own around 10% of the Creatures company.

At some point, Game Freak ran out of money and offered Nintendo shares in the company in exchange for financial assistance. So, at the end of the day, we can see that Nintendo would most certainly have a much bigger piece of the pie. It’s possible that their share in the Pokémon company adds up to more than the other two companies put together. So while the company may operate independently, Nintendo are the majority owner of Pokémon. This would be why the value of Nintendo’s stock would benefit from any form of Pokémon success including Pokémon Go and its why so many people assume that the Nintendo Pokémon connection is rather different to what it actually is.

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