SHIMONOSEKI (majirox news) — Officials from the city of Ube in Yamaguchi Prefecture dismissed claims Aug. 3 that an official mascot violated copyright because of its close resemblance to Pikachu, the most famous of the Pokémon franchise.
Ube has come under increasing criticism because a costumed version of its taxpayer-funded character Ekoha-chan bears too close a resemblance to Pikachu.
City officials acknowledge the similarity but say they are breaking no laws.
“Some have pointed out to us likeness with Pikachu,”a city official said. “But we do not think there is any problem with regard to copyright.”
An Ube-based recycling company came up with the idea for Ekoha-chan and the city adopted the creature as its environment-related character in October 2010. While the two-dimensional version of the character is clearly distinguishable from the Pokémon star, a costumed version of Ekoha-chan drew widespread claims of copying Pikachu with the only difference being that the character is green instead of yellow.