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Nintendo plans to 'actively expand' character licensing business

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Nintendo plans to expand its character licensing business, which will allow third-party partners to create and sell merchandise based on Nintendo intellectual property, the company announced during a financial briefing.

While Nintendo does currently have partnerships with companies like Dark Horse Comics, Hybrid Apparel and PEZ International (which make comics, clothing and candy respectively), allowing them to use certain Nintendo characters and brands in their products, it has been very selective in who it works with.

Company president Satoru Iwata said in his presentation that until now, Nintendo has taken a "passive approach toward the character IP licensing business," and this has worked out well for the company because it has prevented the value of the characters from being damaged. Moving forward though, this policy will change.

"We will actively expand our character licensing business, including proactively finding appropriate partners," Iwata said. "In fact, we have been actively selling character merchandise for about a year in the U.S.

"Also, we will be flexible about forming licensing relationships in areas we did not license in the past, such as digital fields, provided we are not in direct competition and we can form win-win relationships."

Nintendo's brand merchandise licensees currently span products like art books, collectible statues, children's sleepwear, manga, fruit snacks, toys, soups and pastas and party goods. Most recently, the company's Yoshi character made an appearance as downloadable content in Sega's Sonic Lost World. Some of the company's more well-known licensing deals include Captain N: The Game Master, an animated television series that feature NIntendo characters that ran from 1989-1991.

Nintendo also had its own breakfast cereal, the Nintendo Cereal System, which was produced by Ralston Cereals in 1988. The box came with two vertical bags of cereal, one based on the Super Mario Bros. games (fruity-flavored Marios, Super Mushrooms, Goombas, Koopa Troopas and Bowsers) and one based on The Legend of Zelda (which consisted of berry-flavored Links, hearts, boomerangs, keys and shields.).