Just a month after the release of Pokémon Go, creator Niantic found itself in a class-action lawsuit from upset property owners. Now, the case is reaching a close as Niantic agrees to a settlement offered by the plaintiffs.
Keep Gyarados on a tight leash
Back in 2016, plenty of stories emerged about the hit mobile game Pokémon Go. A good amount of them involved people wandering into odd situations while looking for the titular creatures. Like how they sometimes found dead bodies. One such story involved numerous upset homeowners, who filed a class-action lawsuit against Niantic. Primary plaintiff Jeffery Marder alleged that Niantic had placed Pokéstops and Pokémon gyms on private property without the owner’s consent. Because of this, players had been lingering around his house, with some, according to the lawsuit, asking for access to the backyard to catch Pokémon there. The suit says that situation isn’t unusual, citing how Pokémon, like the gassy Koffing, wound up at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
Now, the company is agreeing to a settlement proposed last Thursday. If the agreement gets the judge’s approval, Niantic will implement new features and restrictions into the game. Here’s what the settlement will change, according to Hollywood Reporter:
—Upon complaints of nuisance or trespass and demands of the removal of a “PokéStop” or “Gym,” the company will make commercially reasonable efforts to resolve the complaint and communicate a resolution within 15 days.
—Owners of single-family residential properties get rights of removal within 40 meters of their properties.
—Niantic will maintain a database of complaints in an attempt to avoid poor placement.
—When Niantic’s system detects a raid of more than 10 players congregating, a warning message will appear on their screens reminding them to be courteous and respectful of surroundings.
—Niantic is also working with user-reviewers and mapping services like Google Maps to also mitigate any problems plus maintaining a mechanism so that park authorities can request a park’s hours of operation be honored.
—At the company’s expense, Niantic will have an independent firm audit compliance with obligations during a three-year period.
The named plaintiffs will each receive $1,000. The law firm of Pomerantz is seeking $8 million in attorney’s fees and $130,000 in expenses.
At face value, the lawsuit might seem kind of silly, like the McDonald’s coffee lawsuit. However, it’s actually more serious than you’d think, also like the McDonald’s coffee lawsuit. The lawsuit in general asks questions about trespassing in the digital era. Is a company legally liable for putting a digital item in a private location. Or would the trespasser be liable because they’re responsible for where they go? They’re definitely legitimate questions, and it’s certainly something to think about with this case.
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