clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Pokémon Company is trying to sue Sword and Shield’s leakers

The company thinks it’s pinpointed the first leaked image to go online

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

A pokemon trainer looking at a phone The Pokémon Company, Game Freak/Nintendo via Polygon
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

The Pokémon Company has filed a lawsuit in a Seattle court alleging three unnamed defendants leaked Pokémon Sword and Shield information ahead of the game’s release. The leakers — John/Jane Does 1-3 — posted photos from the official Sword and Shield strategy, thereby sharing new details about unreleased Pokémon.

Defendants allegedly posted stolen trade secrets from the strategy guide on Discord on Nov. 1. Screenshots of the Discord messages are shown in the lawsuit, which was first reported by Forbes, detailing the 18 photos posted from the unreleased strategy guide, each of quickly spread across the internet to reach a “worldwide audience.”

The only problem is that The Pokémon Company doesn’t know the names of the leakers just yet — it’ll need to learn those to move forward, though it has identified a Discord account associated with the images. But the ability to post anonymously on the platform makes it tricky to track down its owner. It’ll need the court’s help to get there.

The Sword and Shield strategy guide was released on Nov. 22, a week after Sword and Shield’s Nov. 15 launch date. The Pokémon Company detailed some of the security measures it uses to keep its information safe. Employees undergo background checks, stores files on secure computers, restricts access to those files, and traces and marks files. Anyone with access to the game or information on it is required to sign a non-disclosure agreement — including any contractors and production vendors.

“Only production facility employees with proper security clearance have access to the Strategy Guide during the production process,” lawyers for The Pokémon Company wrote. “Those with permission to access the secured areas are not permitted to bring in cellular phones or cameras.”

Something in that process apparently broke down ahead of the strategy guide’s release, though. The Pokémon Company said it “reacted swiftly” to the leaks after the images were posted online, and issued takedown requests “in an effort to mitigate the damage.”

Shortly after the strategy guide leaks, however, videos straight from the game were posted to the internet. A new hashtag, #GameFreakLied, started trending across America in response to the leaked videos and incomplete impressions of the game.

The Pokémon Company is seeking “compensatory damages” for the leakers’ “wrongful conduct,” as well as monetary relief, punitive and exemplary damages, and injunctive relief. But first, it needs to get the leakers’ names.