The Pokémon Company will "investigate" IP infringement after questions raised around Palworld

Palworld's monster designs are being compared with Pokémon's as questions around IP and copyright swirl

The Pokémon Company will "investigate" IP infringement after questions raised around Palworld

At PGC London this week, Pocket Pair’s Palworld came up as a recurring topic of conversation from panellists and around the event because of the game’s apparent similarities to Pokémon. These similarities have helped the new game boom in popularity but also mean potential risks for Pocket Pair if deemed to infringe on the Pokémon IP.

With the game coming to be known colloquially as ‘Pokémon with Guns’ - a branding that The Pokémon Company certainly wouldn’t approve of given the family friendly image it's careful to curate - some sort of response appeared increasingly likely as the week progressed.

And now, The Pokémon Company has indeed announced intentions to investigate and take "appropriate measures" against "another company’s game" that released this January, almost certainly Palworld.

A question of origins

Palworld’s character designs raise an interesting question around the degree to which a design can be copyrighted. Looking at the popular Pokémon Lucario as an example, it’s a blue biped canine taking inspiration from the Egyptian god Anubis. So is Palworld’s yellow biped canine based on Anubis – and actually named after the deity - an infringement of Pokémon’s copyright, or is it simply drawing from the same source material?

If this were the only example perhaps the similarity would be overlooked, but there are many other similarities too – like Pikachu and Sparkit both being electric rodents with lightning-shaped tails, Vulpix and Foxparks both being fire foxes, and Grookey and Tanzee being leafy green monkeys.

These are only a handful of the many similar creatures, all adding up to look increasingly suspicious - hence Pokémon’s apparent investigation. But are Palmon’s creatures really a copyright infringement when they haven’t copy-pasted Pokémon directly? With the sheer number of Pokémon designs at this point - over 1,000 in total - there is an argument to be made that some overlap in design inspirations is inevitable.

And after all, looking at other long-running franchises, Digimon’s mascot Agumon is a bipedal orange reptile just like Pokémon’s Charmander, but isn’t deemed a copyright infringement. Bakugan’s Dragonoid and Monster Hunter’s Rathalos haven’t run into copyright troubles from Charizard either - they’re all fire dragons, a concept Pokémon doesn’t have an exclusive right to.

But, the sheer number of similarities between Pokémon and Palworld designs is hard to overlook, and it's hard to believe that every similar design was entirely coincidental.

Quite how a potential legal case would play out remains to be seen, but for now the argument between ‘shared inspiration’ and ‘direct copy’ is sure to carry on. Either way, The Pokémon Company has assured: "We intend to investigate and take appropriate measures to address any acts that infringe on intellectual property rights related to the Pokémon. We will continue to cherish and nurture each and every Pokémon and its world, and work to bring the world together through Pokémon in the future."

News Editor

Aaron is the News Editor at and has an honours degree in Creative Writing.
Having spent far too many hours playing Pokémon, he's now on a quest to be the very best like no one ever putting words in the right order.