Japan is going a bit copyright crazy of late. It's not cool to sell customised figures online, it's not cool to rent video games in love hotels, and now, it's apparently not cool to sell Pokémon save data.
On Japan's Yahoo! Auctions, there is a cottage industry in which saved in-game Pokémon are bought and sold. Instead of players collecting their own Pokémon, they can just buy 500 or so from a Pokémon for a price.
Pokémon (and in turn Nintendo) are not pleased. This is currently unregulated as games are not being sold, but rather, game data. Thus, it falls into a grey zone. Complicating issues is that players would technically need a ROM to save on, which brings the specter of piracy into the picture.
What's more, the point of the game is to collect new Pokémon (Gotta catch 'em all!), so the buying and selling of them online largely seems to defeat that purpose - or at least, simplifies it. Some Pocket Monsters, however, are given away at special events. And if they can be bought and sold, that certainly makes them less special.
According to sources close to the Pokémon, the act of copying saved game data is in violate of Japanese copyright law, because players are ultimately copying original game assets without permission.
Defenders say this is not breaking the law, because they are selling "used" items. What's more, who owns the copyright to a particular game save? Defenders would argue that the data is the property of the player, while the The Pokémon Company is apparently saying it owns the game assets
However, The Pokémon Company also owns the copyright on, say, Pokémon cards or toys (pictured above), yet rare ones continue to fetch higher prices via online auctions with collectors.