One of the scariest things for copyright and trademark owners is the rapid expansion of 3-D printing and the ease at which it recreates protected works. In an effort to protect its intellectual property, Nintendo has successfully shutdown sales of a planter featuring a character from Pokemon with a copyright infringement takedown notice.
The future is here with 3-D printing which has seen expanded growth into the private sector. While many people use the printers to create such things as plastic forks and knives, some people are using it to recreate copyrighted and trademarked works. One such case is the Bulbasaur planter that has ruffled some feathers at Nintendo. Bulbasuar is a cuddly creature from the popular Pokemon universe and a fan favorite among the anime crowd. If you Google the term “Bulbasaur planter”, you will find 3-D printing instructions to create what you see below: a planter reproducing the copyright protected Pokemon character.
A person used their 3-D printer to create such planters and then decided to sell the planters on Shapeways, a website that is a marketplace for 3-D created products. The design was advertised as a “succulent monster” but included references to Pokemon and sold for $49. According to the seller of the planters, Nintendo sent down a DMCA takedown notice to Shapeways claiming that the planter was infringing Nintendo’s copyrights; which the planters clearly were.
This situation is reflective of another growing concerning for intellectual property owners as they try to balance the growth of new technology while also protecting their brand.