“It seems that dbrand easily recognizes the potentially fake nature of its design, but is still willing to take the risk of launching the product.”

Is imitation really the highest form of flattery? Nintendo may not believe it after seeing the latest rebranding skins.

The Nintendo Switch was extremely popular during the COVID 19 pandemic at social distances where people work from home and stay at home. The combination of traditional and manual console functions and a multitude of games draws a large audience and offers an interesting way to spend time at home.

Unfortunately, high demand combined with supply problems has made it difficult for consumers to find a console to buy. Switching consoles, which generally retail for $ 299, sell out or sell for high costs, often in the $ 500 to $ 600 range. This difficulty increases with limited versions of the console, like the latest one. Animal Crossing New Horizons special edition. This special edition of the Switch contains pastel green and blue Joy-Con controllers (each with a cream-colored back) and a unique cream-colored docking station with animal-crossing graphics. The special feature of this docking station is that other limited edition springs contained black spring structured graphics and springs not fully customized with version graphics.

What should a video game enthusiast (or a crawling animal) do if they don’t get a special console? Of course, personalize yours! Players have been customizing their consoles for years, be it stickers, masks, fun boxes or hand-painted works of art.

dbrand is a company that sells masks (adhesive layers that surround the elements to change color) for phones, consoles, and other electronic devices. Dbrand strives to guarantee its customers the best quality and service, including a fixed position when the mask is placed on the switch until a unique adhesive is created that does not affect the console’s skin after removal.

This time, however, dbrand is in a self-proclaimed gray area: he has designed a series of shift skins that imitate the official Animal Crossing Special Edition console. “Look closely at the design on the front of this dock,” says Dbrand on his website. “Is this a copyright infringement? The lawyers we paid for the refusal declined. The lawyers who are not on our payroll disagree. That’s exactly what it is.” A gray area where we put a lot of pressure on them. We need a free request. “

What are the legal ramifications of such a decision?

Does Color Matter?

There are a few things to keep in mind when considering Debrand (not) Animal Crossing Switch skins. The first are the colors of the JoeyCon controllers: Debrand contains pastel green and blue skins to mimic the colors used in the Nintendo Special Edition. Unlike the special edition, Debrand skin does not contain any cream. Rather, the color of the weapon is completely wrapped around the controller. This is not a problem for retailers unless Nintendo shows that pastel green and blue are intertwined in their business, which the video game company says could potentially become a brand. It has no color combinations.

Copyright Infringement?

The real problem lies in the skin of spring. Below are photos of the official Nintendo dock and mask of the brand. Would you say they are similar? Quite different?

You can see some differences on the faces of the characters and the shape of the flag. Unlike Joy-Con colors, dbrand is against copying Nintendo’s copyrighted works. dbrand calls its version a parody (in fact a fair trade slogan that is authorized to use someone else’s copyright protected material without their consent), but it is doubtful that dbrand art is really a parody of a simple copyright infringement. As dbrand adds on its website:

“Oh – and even if the Nintendo dispute never happens, you still have an almost perfect parody of the most popular limited edition switch on the market. (No) Animal Crossing: It’s like Animal Crossing, but not. “

It seems that dbrand easily recognizes the potentially violent nature of its design, but is always willing to take the risk of launching the product.

Trademark Infringement?

In addition, dbrand may infringe on the Nintendo brand. This happens when consumers believe it is an official product or when they don’t see the difference between the official Switch special edition and these unofficial skins. If you look closely, you will notice that the characters in dbrand skin are different from the official version. But are these changes enough to make both products visible to the consumer and the law?

Legal Action?

All legal steps related to these skins take place between dbrand and Nintendo. However, it is up to you to decide if you are ethically satisfied with the purchase of this dbrand product. Chances are the brand will remain unmasked (non) offensive, or Nintendo will issue a court order and will likely require royalties or other financial benefits. dbrand crosses the line between fair use and copyright infringement to generate short-term profits for the press and risks verifying whether Nintendo will take legal action.