from the officially-unofficial dept

Just a couple of weeks ago, we discussed a Kickstarter project for an unofficial guidebook to Nintendo’s Amiibo product line. While no regular Techdirt reader could have possibly have been surprised that Nintendo issued threats and a DMCA on the project, it was a bit odd for two main reasons. First, Nintendo’s main gripe appeared to be the use of some of the corporate iconography and other “design marks” proposed for use in the publication, rather than any wholesale copyright or trademark claim to literally everything in the book. Nuance of that kind is not the norm for the notably litigious and protective Nintendo. Second, this whole fight looked to be something of Nintendo shooting itself in the foot, as the project is essentially one giant advertisement for Amiibo products. Why in the world, we wondered at the time, would Nintendo not want such a book to be released to the public?

Well, it seems that perhaps the company does in fact understand all of this. Reports now indicate that the author of the project and Nintendo have resolved all issues the company had and the book will in fact get its release as an “unofficial” guidebook.

The webpage for the Kickstarter project led by Paul Murphy and Ninty Media that was previously entangled in a legal dispute with Nintendo has finally been reinstated. Murphy sent an e-mail to backers of the project, explaining that Nintendo had taken issue with the use of copyrighted materials. While there was some uncertainty about whether the project which had raised over £36,000 GBP would see the light of day, Murphy had reassured backers that they would be refunded if he was forced to halt the project completely.

It seems as though fans no longer need to worry, as changes have been made to the project, with the name of the book being transformed into “The Unofficial amiibook”, so as to prevent potential readers from confusing the fan project with official Nintendo merchandise. Though Murphy stated that he could not go into the specifics of the legal dispute, he confirmed that it was a copyright strike focused on “the use of a design too close to a trademark owned and registered by Nintendo.”

Here we need to employ a bit of nuance ourselves as we analyze what this all means to the Techdirt community. On the one hand, it’s nice to see Nintendo appear to have worked relatively amicably with the project author so that this project could still get a release at all. Again, Nintendo has a reputation for employing every possible avenue to exert as strict a level of control over all references to its properties as possible. I’ll be frank: a week ago I would have told you there is a near-zero chance this project ever sees the light of day. Nintendo appears to have proved me wrong on that. Good on them.

On the other hand, does anyone really believe that any changes the author agreed to make at Nintendo’s request will have an actual material impact on whether buyers of the book confuse it with some kind of official Nintendo release? Of the roughly 15,000 backers of the Kickstarter project, how many previously thought that Nintendo was now crowdsourcing guidebooks like this?

The answer is, for all statistically relevant purposes, “no” and “none.” So, sure, it’s good that this project is allowed to exist at all, but it sort of sucks that this question ever had to be asked.

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Filed Under: amiibo, copyright, design marks, fan creations, guidebook, trademark
Companies: nintendo, ninty media



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