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Nintendo shuts down ‘Etikon’ controller memorial, sparking backlash

‘JoyCon Boyz’ logo infringes trademark, say lawyers

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Nintendo Switch - blue and red Joy-Cons in Joy-Con Grip Photo: James Bareham/Vox Media
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

A legal threat from Nintendo has shut down the manufacturing and sale of custom-designed Joy-Con controllers honoring Desmond “Etika” Amofah. Though the cease-and-desist demand was sent more than two months ago, news of it broke this weekend and drew widespread condemnation for Nintendo on social media.

The controllers, called “Etikons,” earned more than $36,000 in funding on Indiegogo in August 2019, shortly after Amofah died. With a YouTube following of more than 800,000, Amofah was celebrated for his over-the-top reaction videos, and his fandom for Super Smash Bros. and other Nintendo franchises. Amofah died by suicide in June 2019, after uploading a disturbing video in which he discussed thoughts of self-harm.

Late Sunday evening, the Indiegogo project’s creator, Cptn_Alex, said that Nintendo sent him the C&D at the end of September. Proceeds from each sale had gone to the JED Foundation, whose mission is to support the mental health of teens and young adults and prevent suicide.

According to a report from The Daily Dot, Cptn_Alex said Nintendo’s problem was with his use of trademark, not the modification of their hardware. The Etikons bore a logo saying “JOYCON BOYZ.” Apparently he could remake the controllers without the JOYCON BOYZ logo, but that would require another factory run and a fundraiser to support it.

On Sunday, The JoyCon Boyz official YouTube account published a video condemning Nintendo’s actions. “Nintendo’s Legal and Executive teams are by far the worst, most outdated, money hungry people that exist in the gaming scene,” the account said in a follow-up comment, “and thats where my problem lies. I just want Nintendo to change for the better, and stop treating us like trash.”

We’ve reached out to a Nintendo representative for additional comment.

Nintendo is well known for the aggressive protection of its trademarks. Numerous fan-made video game projects have been shut down on demand from the company’s legal team. This controversy is unusual in that it concerns hardware, and is a tribute to a longtime fan as opposed to a Nintendo game or character.

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