Nintendo sued over Pokemon characters

Tokyo - Psychic guru Uri Geller is suing Nintendo Co. for millions of dollars, accusing the Japanese games maker of abusing his name and image in one of its hit Pokemon characters, Nintendo said on Thursday.

"Uri Geller has sued us in the United States for using his name for one of our characters. We have yet to receive his lawsuit here so I cannot comment further," said a Nintendo spokesperson, who declined to be named.

The lawsuit cites a fox-like character in the Pokemon series, called "Un Geller" in Japan and "Kadabra" in the United States, who bears aloft a bent spoon and uses his psychic powers to give people headaches.

Israeli-born Geller, who lives in Britain, made his name by bending spoons supposedly through the power of thought alone.

Geller, whom Kyodo News said filed suit on Wednesday with the US District Court in Los Angeles, was quoted as saying on his website (www.uri-geller.com): "This is the most damaging thing I have ever encountered."

Geller came across the character by accident during a visit to Tokyo, the site said. "It's a straight theft of my persona."

But Nintendo claimed any similarity was coincidence.

"All the Pokemon characters are completely made up. We have not based any of the characters on existing symbols or motifs. We see no problem at all with our Pokemon characters," the spokesperson said.

The suit "seeks hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and the withdrawal of the character from the market," Kyodo said, quoting Geller's lawyers.

"Now to add insult to injury, the Pokemon Un Geller character is depicted with symbols reminiscent of the Holocaust," the suit reportedly says.

The character's chest bears three lightning bolts which the lawsuit alleges are reminiscent of the Nazi SS symbol, and a sign like the Star of David on his forehead.

"We are aware of his accusation of anti-Semitism," said the Nintendo spokesperson.

"With regard to the supposed SS signs, this is simply a design. I simply don't know how to respond to such accusations. We are very puzzled by his warped interpretation."

Nintendo drew protests from Jewish groups over a symbol of a cross featured in Pokemon cards which resembled a Nazi swastika. It stopped production of the offending Japanese-language card last year.

The "swastika" was the original symbol of peace used in Hinduism, which the Nazis turned upside down and gave a twisted interpretation. It is commonly seen throughout Asia, including in Japanese Buddhist temples.

"If people keep making claims like this, we won't be able to use any kind of symbol, not even a star, for our characters," the Nintendo spokesperson protested.

"Pocket Monsters" (Pokemon), mostly rotund, pixie-like characters, were created in 1996 for software in Nintendo's Game Boy console. They now appear in everything from a television series and films to collectors' cards and electronic games. - Sapa-AFP

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