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Presto! Illusionist Uri Geller lifts 20-year ban on Pokemon's Kadabra trading cards

By Josh Weiss
Uri Geller Pokemon

Uri Geller, an Israeli illusionist and psychic, has ended a feud with The Pokémon Company after two decades. The multi-national corporation, which is partly owned by Nintendo, will once again be able to print trading cards featuring Kadabra, a psychic Pocket Monster that is depicted holding a spoon bent by telekinetic means — the famous calling card of Geller's act.

In 2000, the entertainer took Nintendo to Los Angeles federal court by claiming that the company turned him "into an evil, occult Pokémon character" by infringing upon his professional identity. Geller's lawsuit asserted that Kadabra's design (particularly the lines on its belly) was evocative of the lightning emblem used by the German SS during World War II.

"I want to tell the world before the start of the holiday season that I have nothing whatsoever to do with these violent characters," Geller, who sought nearly $80 million in damages, said at the time. As a result of the litigation, no more Kadabra cards were produced. But now, the utensil-bending beast can make a triumphant return...just like magic!

"I am truly sorry for what I did 20 years ago. Kids and grownups I am releasing the ban. It’s now all up to #Nintendo to bring my #kadabra #pokemon card back," Geller, 73, wrote on Twitter. Saturday.  "It will probably be one of the rarest cards now! Much energy and love to all!"

Speaking with TheGamer over email, Geller revealed that he receives a "tremendous volume of emails" from fans "begging" him to let Nintendo revive the character on its cards. He agreed and sent a letter to Nintendo, officially retracting the ban. The message was reportedly received by two of the company's "representatives." 

The evolved form of Abra, Kadabra evolves into Alakazam, a Pokémon that wields not one, but two spoons. Geller's influence on the creation of Kadabra is more evident in Japan, where the creature is named "Yungerer," a monicker based on the illusionist's name. Indeed, all the Japanese names for the three evolutionary stages are based on famous individuals associated with magic and the paranormal. In America, the names reflect the three exclamatory words that come to mind when most of us envision displays of wizardry and illusion.

During a 2008 interviewMasamitsu Hidaka (a director and storyboard artist for Pokémon anime) confirmed that the case was still ongoing and probably wouldn't be resolved "anytime soon." He explained that they "put Kadabra aside for now.”

Prior to 2003, Wizards of the Coast (owner of Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering) was in charge of printing and selling English language Pokémon cards in the U.S. That responsibility was eventually shifted over to The Pokémon Company, but Wizards ended up suing Nintendo over purported theft of trade secrets. The two parties settled their differences out of court in December 2003.

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