Don McGowan is the Chief Legal Officer and Business Affairs of The Pokémon Company International (TPCi), Inc., where he has been since August 2008. McGowan is equally at home in both the linear and interactive media worlds, as well as with consumer products. He handled all legal work and negotiations leading to the release of the mobile gaming phenomenon “Pokémon GO”, which shattered global success records and has been downloaded by over 650 million players. He coordinated TPCi’s investment into Niantic, the developer of Pokémon GO, at the time of its spinoff from Google. During the launch of Pokémon GO, McGowan also negotiated to license the rights to the Detective Pikachu property for the first-ever Pokémon live-action feature film, produced by Legendary Entertainment, and to be distributed by Universal Pictures outside of Japan. McGowan was also instrumental in developing and implementing TPCi’s industry-leading COPPA compliance program through its Pokémon Trainer Club account system, and he serves as TPCi’s Chief Privacy Officer and Chief Security Officer. McGowan was recently named to Variety magazine’s 2016 Legal Impact List, their compilation of the leading lawyers in entertainment for that year.
In addition, McGowan and his team of 10 professionals in Bellevue WA and London UK (6 lawyers, 4 legal professionals) also administer TPCi’s daily legal needs for its animation (over 900 episodes spanning 20 seasons in over 30 languages and 160 countries), trading cards (more than 21.5 billion cards printed in the history of the franchise in 11 languages distributed in 74 countries), merchandise licensing, e-sports (Play! Pokémon), and video game business. Recently ranked by License Global Magazine as the #1 single-IP company in the world, TPCi’s role in stewardship of the Pokémon brand (2016 estimated earnings according to License Global: $3.3 billion) has helped Pokémon grow into the global powerhouse brand it is today.
Prior to his time at TPCi, McGowan was a Senior Attorney at Microsoft (2004-08) where he was the lead attorney for Microsoft Game Studios, Microsoft’s first-party Xbox and PC gaming division (2005-08), as well as in their Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy division (2004-05) working on computer security and encryption issues. While at Microsoft Game Studios, McGowan was involved in some of the biggest games and transactions in the video game industry, including the launch of Halo 3 and subsequent spinoff of Bungie Studios, the acquisition of Lionhead Studios, and the creation and stewardship of brands including Mass Effect and Gears of War. Before Microsoft, McGowan was a litigator at the Montreal office of two major Canadian law firms: Osler, Hoskin, and Harcourt; and Stikeman Elliott.
Outside of TPCi, McGowan is on the Board of Directors of the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children, a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission is to help find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation, and prevent child victimization. He lives with his wife and stepdaughter, as well as a small menagerie of pets and a large collection of wine, outside of Seattle.