4Kids Entertainment, Inc, which has managed the non-game related licensing of the major Nintedo-related Pokemon game/card/TV show brand, has announced that it has agreed not to renew the Pokemon representation agreement set to expire on December 31, 2005.
This means that stand-alone company Pokemon USA, Inc.'s will handle all Pokemon licensing outside of Asia. Under the terms of the expiring agreement, 4Kids will continue to receive commissions for the next several years, however.
Pokemon-related games continue to be extremely important, especially in Japan, where two of the top four titles
in 2004 were published by The Pokemon Company in association with Nintendo, and the franchise neared 150 million copies sold
back in October of this year.
In addition, Pokemon USA has also taken over control of the Pokemon Trading Card Game in the U.S. effective January 1, 2006, though Nintendo still publishes Pokemon games in the West. The next major Pokemon video game releases are likely to include Pokemon's Mysterious Dungeon
for the Nintendo DS and, at some point in 2006, Pokemon Diamond
and Pokemon Pearl
"We felt it was in the best interest of the Pokemon property for Pokemon USA, Inc., to assume all aspects of licensing," said Akira Chiba, President of Pokemon USA, Inc. "This was a brand management decision. We would like to thank 4Kids for all of its great work over the last eight years in helping to establish Pokemon as one of the leading children's brands in the world."