4Kids Parts With Pok’mon

Children’s entertainment and merchandise licensing company 4Kids Ent. Inc. will not have the opportunity to renew its license for the hugely successful Pok’mon brand in 2006. Once the current representation agreement expires on Dec. 31, Pok’mon USA Inc.’s own licensing group will handle all activity for the brand outside of Asia.

“We felt it was in the best interest of the Pok’mon property for Pok’mon USA Inc. to assume all aspects of licensing,” says Akira Chiba, president of Pok’mon 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 Pok’mon as one of the leading children’s brands in the world.”

The decision by Pok’mon USA ends a successful, eight-year, exclusive relationship that saw 4Kids help promote the anime property over multiple platforms, including television, film and consumer products. Introduced in North America in September of 1998, the Pok’mon brand has generated more than $25 billion in worldwide retail sales. More than 14 billion trading cards have sold globally to date, and the animated series on Kids’ WB! consistently ranks within the top three shows for boys ages 6-11.

Though the licensing contract will expire, 4Kids will continue producing the current eighth season of the Pok’mon television series, and will receive commissions over the next several years on payments made under existing license agreements. 4Kids Ent. chairman and CEO Alfred R. Kahn says his company will assist Pok’mon USA’s transition efforts over the next month.

Pok’mon USA, a subsidiary of Japan-based The Pok’mon Co., manages and oversees the licensing, promotions, publication distribution and marketing of the Pok’mon trading card game, animated series, movies, the official website and www.pokemoncenter.com, an e-commerce site. For more information, go to www.pokemon.com.