Nintendo Reaches $30M Settlement in Colopl, White Cat Project Lawsuit After Years of Legal Battle
Colopl is finally free from the Nintendo White Cat Project lawsuit
The lawsuit saga between Nintendo and mobile game developer Colopl has finally reached a conclusion, as both companies announced on August 4 they reached a settlement. Here’s what happened if you’ve never heard of the White Cat Project lawsuit.
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Nintendo, Colopl lawsuit explained
Back on january 10, 2018, Nintendo filed a lawsuit against Colopl regarding a patent infringement in Colopl’s White Cat Project. A free-to-play mobile RPG launched in Japan July 14, 2014, also known under the name Shironeko Project. You might have never heard of it, but the game is incredibly popular in Japan and even got an anime adaptation in 2020. The Shironeko Project official Twitter also has over 1 million followers.
Nintendo claimed Colopl infringed “the patent used for joystick opration on the top of a touch screen in a game”. Basically, White Cat Project uses a virtual pad including a joystick you control with a stylus or finger on top of the touch screen. White Cat Project uses this gameplay method for its battle system. Depending on which actions you do on the touch screen, you’ll trigger various actions in-game, like attacking, evading, or using skills. Nintendo claimed these specific type of controls were all under its patents, and that Colopl infringed them.
The trial continued for three years, and Nintendo increased over time the damages it seeked against Colopl. As reported by our Japanese peers at Automaton, Nintendo was asking for 9.699 billion yen (around $80 million) in damages in court by April 2021. Making the fate of Colopl and its games very uncertain. Many fans of Shironeko Project expected the game and Colopl to fall apart due to the lawsuit.
Now, according to an official statement from Colopl, the company reached a settlement with Nintendo, listing an extraordinary loss of 3.3 billion Yen (around $30 million) it paid Nintendo to end the lawsuit.
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Nintendo and lawsuits, DMCAs
Every Nintendo fan is used to hearing about the Japanese company canceling events, rom hacks, modding or fan-games projects. However, the Colopl lawsuit case is pretty unknown outside Japan, despite being one of the most infamous cases in the archipel.
“Colopl” and “Nintendo” have been trending on the Japanese side of Twitter for several hours as I’m writing this. Many Colopl fans are rejoincing, happy that White Cat Project and other Colopl games like Shironeko Golf won’t be disappearing because of the lawsuit. Though the fan above is still worried about the future of White Cat Golf, mentioning Colopl doesn’t seem to know its target audience would prefer 2D anime esthetics rather than this 3D doll-like feel the characters have.
Some Twitter users responded with irony, saying “Nintendo gave Colopl a 70% summer sale discount, going from nearly 10 billion to 3 billion”.
Others noted this was Nintendo’s aim all along. Putting on some pressure with a ridiculous sum, so that Colopl would settle with paying much less, but still loosing a huge amount. And how Nintendo already did that in the past.