John Joseph Kirby Jr. passed away on October 2nd due to a blood cancer called Myelodysplastic. He was a well-respected attorney whose clients ranged from the video-game maker Nintendo to Pepsi and America Online. According to New York Times obituary, “he was most proud of his time working at the Department of Justice as the special assistant to the head of the Civil Rights Division, John Doar, during the height of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. At the Department of Justice, where he first worked as a summer intern, he gathered voting records throughout the South that demonstrated evidence of wide-spread discrimination against African-Americans.” His methods helped form the basis of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
He became famous after his work for Nintendo‘s lawsuit against Universal Studios saved Nintendo’s Donkey Kong. The company’s 1984 case was about whether Donkey Kong violated the Universal Studios’ King Kong copyrights or not. John Kirby helped Nintendo won the case, letting Nintendo keep Donkey Kong’s right. As a thank you, Nintendo later named one of its most unique characters, Kirby, after him. Nintendo also gifted John Kirby a sailboat named “Donkey Kong”. The Times’ obituary invites the public to make contributions to his foundation, Kirby Scholarship Fund at Fordham University. We as Play4UK send our condolences to his family and his loved ones. May his soul rest in peace.