What did we do on our phones before TikTok? Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook cannot be compared to the video-sharing social networking app’s worldwide popularity. I have never made a TikTok, but I dream of being “TikTok famous.” Being a TikTok star creates a loyal fan base around that TikTok star’s brand, but also catches the attention of big companies that might believe the TikTok content infringes on their intellectual property.
Recently, Nintendo sued TikTok star Pokeprincxss, now known as digitialprincxss, forcing her to re-brand her entire TikTok identity and pay Nintendo for all the money she has made on merchandising. The TikTok star has 1.9 million TikTok followers, and for those not familiar with the timeless Pokemon franchise, her name is directly inspired by Pokemon. While her content is not all related to Pokemon, Pokeprincxss has various Pokemon tattoos covering her body that are easily viewed in her videos. Based on her famous TikTok brand, Pokeprincxss created and sold merchandise that incorporated Pokemon imagery. Everything was going great for Pokeprincxss; she was a TikTok star making money doing something she loved and believed she was protected because she had trademarked her name through LegalZoom. Nintendo thought otherwise.
Any TikTok users that stumbled upon her page might have believed that she was associated with Pokemon: from her TikTok brand, to her tattoos, her name, and her Pokemon merchandise, one could easily assume that Pokeprincxss was a Nintendo TikTok creator just helping promote the brand. Unfortunately, Nintendo was not happy about being associated with Pokeprincxss. Nintendo did not want TikTok viewers to believe that she was associated with them first because they received no portion of the profits from Pokeprincxss’ sales. Secondly, the woman behind the TikToks was also famous in the adult entertainment industry. Of course, Nintendo does not want Pokeprincxss to make money off of their brand and not receive a piece of all the action, but Nintendo is considered a family-friendly company, and Pokepincxss’ work in the adult entertainment industry does not exactly give off a family-friendly vibe.
What Have We Learned From Pokeprincxss?
We have learned two valuable lessons from Pokeprincxss re-branding to digitialprincxss at the hands of the big and bad Nintendo.
First, trademarks are used to protect a brand. Thus, when TikTok users see the Pokemon mark, they know that this content came from Nintendo and know what to expect regarding quality, service, and that the brand promotes family-friendly values. Trademark laws help TikTok users to not be deceived or even confused that Nintendo is associated with Pokeprincxss. Nintendo was able to assert its intellectual property rights to protect their brand. Your business needs to have a registered trademark so your content and your brand is protected. Like in Pokeprincxss’ unfortunate situation, your consumers or viewers might think that your brand is associated with something that you do not necessarily want to be associated with, such as the adult film industry. Additionally, you, like Nintendo, could be losing money to someone who uses your brand and content to make money that belongs to you. So, lesson one is you must trademark your brand.
The second valuable lesson that Pokeprincxss taught us: to make sure that your brand is protected, use the legal services of Eden Law. Rachel Brenke, the partner at Eden Law, has years of experience in intellectual property and has been featured on NBC, Business Insider, and Forbes for her expertise in intellectual property. Yes, Pokeprincxss did trademark her name through LegalZoom; however, they likely did not have the knowledge or experience required to protect her. For Pokeprincxss, she might have paid a small fee upfront for LegalZoom, but she ended up having to pay even more when paying back Nintendo. Don’t settle and pay for services that will not work and then have to spend money in a lawsuit. Call Eden Law, and we will protect your small business needs or even your TikTok stardom.
Written by: Lindsay M. Thomas