A longtime Pokémon superfan who is being sued by the company for organizing a themed party during the PAX Prime gaming conference in Seattle said he needs to come up with $4,000 to settle the case.
Ramar Larkin Jones simply never thought it would come to this, but he had no choice but to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money.
“I thought it was a scare tactic,” Jones said. “I thought once the party was canceled there would be nothing more about this. I’m shocked.”
GeekWire first reported on the case when The Pokémon Company International, Inc. claimed copyright infringement the night before the so-called “5th Annual Unofficial Pokemon PAX Kickoff Party” party was supposed to go down in August.
Jones had arranged the party every year since 2011 for all the self-proclaimed geeks who flock to Seattle to celebrate their passion at the annual PAX convention.
He said he lost money on the party every year, and this years was going to be no different. Tickets to the event cost $2, and he made a total of about $500 off the sales.
Jones said he spent $450 on a DJ and gift card giveaways alone. He also bought decorations, was going to give away a Kindle Fire to whoever showed up wearing the best costume and a cash prize to the winner of a Super Smash Bros. tournament.
According to event listings, the party was going to feature an “AMAZIN POKEMON MASHUP,” “Pokemon themed shots and drinks,” “Smash Bros. Tournament with cash prize,” “Dancing,” “Giveaways,” “Cosplay Contest and more.”
But Pokémon’s lawyers took issue with a poster and Facebook post for the event that contained pictures of Pikachu and Snivy, two of Pokémon’s copyrighted characters. In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington, Pokémon’s lawyers say they aim to “put an end to and obtain redress” for the “blatant and willful infringement.”
Jones said the complaint was filed without any kind of warning, and he would have canceled the party sooner had he known there were any issues.
Jones tells GeekWire the company’s lawyers now say they are willing to settle the case if he pays their $4,000 in legal fees within the next 45 days.
The Pokémon Company International, Inc. has not responded to several requests for comment.
Jones said he could fight the case in court, but he’s sure his own legal fees would end up costing more than the settlement offer even if he won.
Jones, who is the manager of a Seattle cafe, said he asked for a year to pay the money, but the company’s lawyers are sticking to the deadline. Not having “anywhere close” to that amount of cash, he launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe.
“So I’m reaching out to the PAX video game community. Anything you can donate would be greatly appreciated,” he wrote on the campaign’s page. “Trust me I will never throw another fandom party again.”