Nintendo senior vice president and general counsel Richard Flamm, who made headlines fighting against bootleg Pokemon merchandise and Wii patent trolls, will retire after a storied 19-year tenure.
Flamm originally joined Nintendo's litigation team in 1992, and later moved on to manage its anti-piracy department, eventually making general counsel in 1999 and becoming a senior vice president of the company in 2003.
To put his tenure in perspective, Flamm began working for Nintendo during the days of the Game Boy and the Super Nintendo, and stayed at the company for another three hardware generations.
Notable highlights of his career include his numerous campaigns to protect Nintendo from counterfeiting and piracy. In July 1999, for instance, Flamm helped United States Customs Department seize more than $250,000 worth of illicit Pokemon toys, trading cards, and games.
"This is garbage," he told CBS at the time. "They sell crap. And these products are extremely unsafe. They're extremely low-quality. And the consumers are getting ripped off by them."
In 2000, Flamm continued to protect key Nintendo icons by preventing company brands from appearing on explicit websites. "The Nintendo brand is synonymous with high-quality entertainment, and we are very concerned about sites that are using our popular icons, such as Mario Bros. and Pokemon, to promote explicit adult content," Flamm remarked.
Flamm also fought against trademarked Nintendo characters being used to promote sexually explicit material online, as well as domain squatters, suing individuals who owned domain names based on Nintendo's Pokemon characters.
"These web sites are an obvious attempt to profit illegally from the success of Pokemon," said Flamm. "Nintendo is intent on protecting its brands and properties against any attempt of cybersquatting."
More recently, Flamm saw Nintendo through a number
of patent lawsuits
protecting the validity of the Wii Remote and the company's other console controllers
"We sincerely appreciate and want to recognize all Rick has accomplished, not only for Nintendo of America, but also for Nintendo globally," said Nintendo of America chairman Tatsumi Kimishima in a statement Thursday. "His passion for the business and the outstanding efforts and results of his team are unparalleled."
Prior to joining Nintendo, Flamm served as a managing partner at the Seattle law firm of Smith & Leary. He earned his bachelor's degree from Ithaca College and his law degree from Gonzaga Law School in Washington.