Twenty-five years ago tomorrow, the storied Pokémon franchise began with the Japan release of Pocket Monsters Red and Green on the Game Boy. Many of us recall playing classics like Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow, Gold/Silver/Crystal, and others through the years. When I initially went home at the start of the pandemic, I found my old Game Boy and a copy of Pokémon Emerald, and I took a trip down memory lane (and through the Elite Four, again) with my level 86 Swampert and the rest of the team.
Name, Position, and Location:
Jennifer Liu, Chief Legal Officer, The Pokémon Company International, Inc. (based in Bellevue, Washington)
Media and Entertainment
University of Michigan, University of Iowa
What are you most looking forward to about the upcoming 25th anniversary of Pokémon?
Being new to The Pokémon Company International (TPCi), I’m looking forward to seeing the outpouring of love, excitement and appreciation from Pokémon aficionados of all ages. Since joining the company, seeing a diverse community unite over their Pokémon fandom has to be one of the most heart-warming things I’ve ever experienced. So many partners and people are helping us celebrate this very special anniversary – from Katy Perry and Post Malone to Bear Walker, whose gorgeous limited-edition Pokémon themed skateboards came out in January – there’s just a lot of celebration that TPCi wants to share with its fan family throughout the year. Watch this channel!
What do you most enjoy about your job?
Solving problems to help bring Pokémon to the fan community! Creating elegant solutions to complex problems is really a joy.
How did you begin working in the entertainment law industry?
I started working at Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC in 2000, the year the PlayStation®2 console launched. SCEA was a client of the intellectual property boutique firm where I was working; my practice was largely an injunction practice in intellectual property litigation. Having a grounding in intellectual property is a great foundation for an entertainment law practice.
What has been one highlight from your career?
They’re more like war stories. One of the more gratifying experiences from earlier in my career was invalidating as generic the trademark of a company who thought they would shake us down for more than a million dollars, which was a lot of money, once upon a time. We went to the Eighth Circuit and won on summary judgment on two grounds: the plaintiff’s trademark was generic and therefore not protected and there was no likelihood of confusion between their mark and our use.
What piece of advice would you give to a current law student?
No time is wasted. That’s not the same thing as, “don’t waste time.” I’m saying that if you spend time on doing things you really enjoy doing and get into the details – from playing video games to dabbling in the markets – you’re going to pick up information and knowledge that is going to be useful to you in your career. What does take practice is flexing your mind to draw analogies, notice similarities, create connections and explore extrapolations. Law school provides some pretty decent training in this area; I advise to extend the practice to everything you encounter.
What is a recent case or trend in your industry that interested law students should do some research about?
Entertainment law covers such a broad swath of practices, from litigation to licensing. If you’re supporting a client who produces creative works like video games or linear content, the acceptable First Amendment boundary for use of another’s intellectual property in those creative works continues to develop and is perennially relevant. I also think the distribution cases around what is considered to be “making [a work] available” are current and interesting.
What do you like to do in your free time?
So many things. I used to love traveling to places of rich historical interest that many cultures have touched … now, I’ve had to approximate that by diving deep into a culture’s food history and making those foods in my home kitchen (a poor substitute for a local restaurant, but I do what I can).
Eli Nachmany is a second-year law student at Harvard Law School and the Managing Editor (Print) of the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law.