Creative online marketplace RedBubble has lost a case against Pokemon after printing t-shirts depicting its most famous character Pikachu.

The Federal Court ruled in favour of the iconic Japanese franchise, ordering RedBubble to pay all of $1 as punishment.

It marks the end of a case that dates back to April 2016, when the Pokemon Company International sued the online store for copyright infringement, seeking more than $40,000 in damages.


The yellow cartoon character was referenced throughout the lawsuit, as well as popular faces such as Bulbasaur, Squirtle, Jigglypuff (pictured) and Charmander.

Justice Tony Pagone said the awarding of damages was only a nominal fee of $1 as the designs were not available for purchase within the Pokemon universe and would not have yielded royalties.

“Many of the items sold through the Redbubble website involved a ‘mash up’ of images, such as the combination of Pikachu and Homer Simpson,” Justice Pagone said in his judgment.

“The evidence did not support a confident finding of damages in the amount claimed.”

All this for a company with a market cap of $262 million.

But it is not the first time the company have got into hot water for copyright; the company has also defended itself against the Hells Angels in similar proceedings.

Shares in the company (ASX:RBL) closed at $1.26 on Tuesday, on a steady climb since hitting lows of 61c in September.

RBL shares over the past six months. Source:
RBL shares over the past six months. Source:

After the judgement chief executive Martin Hosking told shareholders they were still committed to creating a marketplace for independent artists.

“We are pleased that the judgment recognises the reasonable steps that Redbubble takes to prevent infringements occurring on the platform,” he said.

“We have always respected the rights of content owners and continue to work with them in the fight against infringement and piracy across the internet.”

The company acts a marketplace for creatives to sell their designs on apparel, stationery or homewares.

Sales of more than $10 million were reported over the thanksgiving weekend, in addition to more than $46 million in its last quarterly.

RedBubble had $28.8 million left in the bank at the end of the quarter and anticipated spending for the following quarter of $70 million.