Uri Geller sues Nintendo over cartoon monster

By Dan Whitcomb

Uri GellerSpoon-bender Uri Geller has sued Nintendo (news - web sites) for hundreds of millions of dollars Wednesday, claiming that the Japanese game-maker turned him into an "evil, occult Pokemon character" by naming a monster in the blockbuster cartoon series after him. And both he and his lawyer suggested that there were elements of anti-Semitism in the character's depiction.
Geller, a former Israeli paratrooper famous for using mysterious mental powers to bend spoons, said that Nintendo Co. Ltd. "debased" his name with the Pokemon character, a monster named "Yun Geller" who carries a spoon and uses psychic mind-waves to give his victims bad headaches.
A Redmond, Washington, spokesman for Nintendo of America Inc., the company's U.S. subsidiary, said he could not immediately comment on the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
"Nintendo turned me into an evil, occult Pokemon character," Geller said in a statement. "Nintendo stole my identity by using my name and my signature image of a bent spoon."
Geller's lawyer, Marshall Grossman, said he would seek "hundreds of millions" of dollars in damages and to force Nintendo to pull the character from its products.
Geller said he filed the lawsuit to protect his name "but also to tell the world that I have nothing whatsoever to do with these violent characters that have a negative impact on children."
Geller, who was born in Israel and now lives in England, said he was particularly offended that the Pokemon monster is depicted with lightning bolts on his chest, which he said are reminiscent of a similar symbol used by the Nazi SS. The monster also bears a star on his forehead, which Grossman said appeared to be a Star of David. Grossman said the character, which is found on a Pokemon trading card and appears sporadically in cartoons, has a Japanese name which translates in English as "Yun Geller'' and is usually seen carrying a spoon.
"Uri Geller is internationally known as a spoon bender," Grossman said. "To duplicate his name and his signature is bad enough. But to then brand him in an evil way and place on his character the German SS lightning bolts and what appears to be a yellow Star of David is despicable."
Geller's lawsuit, which describes him as a "world-famous entertainer, author, radio personality and teacher", claims that Nintendo's use of Geller's name could "confuse and deceive" consumers into thinking that he endorsed the products.
Kyoto-based Nintendo estimates retail sales of franchised products that range from trading cards to stuffed toys will top $3 billion this year in the United States alone.

Reuters/Variety REUTERS