The Pokemon Company sues Pokemon Sword and Shield leakers for sharing ‘valuable trade secrets’ ahead of launch

The Pokemon Company is suing three people for leaking images of Pokemon Sword and Shield characters ahead of their official reveal.

As reported by Forbes, the lawsuit filed in Seattle, US, accuses three unnamed US residents for taking “illicit pictures of pages from an unreleased strategy guide”. The images – which include the evolved forms of a number of Pokemon – ended up being widely distributed online, as well as being posted on Discord and 4chan.

The filing says the leak shared “valuable trade secrets” and says “by taking illicit pictures of pages from an unreleased strategy guide” the defendants “disseminated TPCi’s trade secrets on the Internet, causing TPCi harm”.  

The paperwork confirms the company the true identity of the leakers is “currently unknown” but the company has tasked private investigators to track down the leakers’ personal details, who have already subpoenaed both Discord and 4chan for details of the user accounts thought to have leaked the information.

“There is value in this secrecy,” the lawsuit says. “The videogame industry is highly competitive with thousands of new games released annually. To maximize consumer interest and excitement in new Pokémon games, TPCi and its partners carefully time announcements about new Pokémon, features and functionality. When individuals disclose these details without TPCi’s or its partners’ consent (commonly called “leaks” or “spoilers”) they threaten this value and undermine the carefully cultivated excitement and interest TPCi and its partners have worked so hard to generate. It also ruins the surprise for hundreds of thousands of Pokémon fans who are eagerly anticipating the release of the new game.” 

The case follows similar action by Epic Games after it sued two testers for leaking earlier information about Fortnite Chapter 2. In the first civil suit, which was filed in North Carolina, Epic Games’ lawyers were seeking “injunctive relief and damages […] for misappropriation of trade secrets” and requests compensation for “a sum certain reflecting the maximum amount of damages”, as well as covering the developer’s legal costs after Ronald Sykes purportedly shared a “trade secret” and broke the terms of their non-disclosure agreement.

The second claim was filed in the Quebec Superior Court against Lucas Johnston, who’s accused of leaking information about Chapter 2 when they worked as a tester in the Montreal branch of Keywords Studios. 

“Information is currency,” the lawsuit said. “Sykes cashed in on what he learned as a User Experience tester for Epic. He did so at the expense of Epic and those in the Fortnite community who were anxiously awaiting the new season of Fortnite only to have some of Epic’s planned surprises spoiled by Sykes’ leaks.” 

“As a direct result of Sykes’ breach of his contractual obligations under his NDA,” Epic’s lawyers said in the lawsuit, “Epic has sustained and will continue to sustain damages in an amount to be determined.”

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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