While the Pokémon Go mobile game (“Pokémon Go”) hype may have substantially decreased, lawsuits continue to ensue against the developer and creators of the augmented reality game.
For those unfamiliar with the premise of the game, Pokémon Go allows players to act as “trainers” in order to catch Pokémon characters in real-life settings. For example, a “trainer” may have the ability to catch a Pikachu (the name of a popular Pokémon character) in Time Square in New York City. Players can capture characters, like Pikachu, by swiping their phone to throw a “Pokéball” at such character.
Additionally, Niantic, Inc. (“Niantic”), the developer, has created Pokéstops, throughout the world, in predetermined locations that produce valuable items to the players. These items include potions to heal wounded Pokémon characters and “stardust” which is used to power up the characters. There are also Pokémon gyms in predetermined real-life locations where “trainers” can battle against one another.
Pokémon Go was released to the general public in July 2016, and, within a few weeks (if not, days), there have been legal issues directly relating to players’ usage of the game. In particular, a class action, Marder v. Niantic, was filed in late July 2016. The Plaintiffs hold the Defendants, Niantic, The Pokémon Company and Nintendo Co. Ltd., liable for charges of nuisance and unjust enrichment. The class action has arisen from upset resident owners who have been adversely affected by the location of Pokéstops/Pokémon gyms near or on their private property.
The ultimate decision of the district court, in the Northern District of California, regarding these charges will be interesting considering developments within the program that allow people to request the removal of Pokéstops and Pokémon gyms by merely submitting a request form on the company’s website.
Additionally, it is unclear how the case will be decided based on the relatively short-lived hype of the game. Based on an article, titled “Pokémon Go is Stalling Out, Probably Because There’s Not Much Game There,” published by Fortune on August 27, 2016, “…data from Axiom Capital Management showed that the meteoric popularity of the Pokémon Go Mobile game plateaued in mid-July – only two weeks after its earth-shattering debut – and has declined steadily since then…”