The company Pocketpair recently released a game that many allege violates Nintendo's IP rights. My friends and I were discussing the situation when I brought the Idea-Expression Dichotomy, a feature of US copyright law but not Japanese copyright law (citation). One of my friends said that because both companies are based in Japan, if Nintendo sued Pocket Pair it must happen in Japan. I don't know for sure, but I think he is incorrect.

My reasoning is that when a company sells a product in the US, they must agreed to abide by US laws. Since both companies sell products in the US, one can therefore sue the other in US court. I admit the process would be much more complex, but it should be possible.

  • "My reasoning is that when a company sells a product in the US, they must agreed to abide by US laws": such companies also enjoy the protections of US law with respect to the US market, which is perhaps the more important consideration for the plaintiff.
    – phoog
    Feb 2 at 7:18

1 Answer 1


You can sue for copyright violation in each and every jurisdiction where a violation occurred

So, if they violate copyright in Japan, you sue in Japan, in the USA you sue in the USA, in Australia you sue in Australia etc. in addition, you can always sue a company where it is based for any violation it does worldwide.

If they violate your copyright in multiple jurisdictions you can sue in multiple jurisdictions.

However, there is an estoppel issue - any findings of fact made in the first lawsuit (wherever that is) will not be open to reaggitation in any other jurisdiction. So, if it’s found that the game is not a copy, then it is not a copy everywhere.

  • I agree 100% with this answer as far as it goes. I would add, however, that a Japanese company could also be sued in Japan for a copyright violation anywhere in the world, in addition to the place where the copyright violation occurred, under the concept of "general jurisdiction." There might be strategic litigation reasons to do that. If all of the assets that a judgement can be collected from are in Japan, that might favor suing there, & it might be cheaper to litigate there for the Japanese plaintiff than hiring foreign counsel. But the merits could still make suing abroad more attractive.
    – ohwilleke
    Feb 2 at 6:56
  • @ohwilleke Would suing in Japan be possible/worthwhile if - as OP seems to imply - an action in, say, the US (which might be a violation of US copyright law) wouldn't be a violation of Japanese copyright law?
    – TripeHound
    Feb 2 at 7:19
  • @TripeHound If you lose in Japan and you win in a foreign venue, based upon the law, you'd sue in a foreign venue. But if you could win under Japanese law, it might be more efficient to sue in Japan for all violations worldwide, than to sue piecemeal in lots of different foreign lawsuit for violations in each of those countries.
    – ohwilleke
    Feb 2 at 7:21

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