Remember back in 2016 when Pokemon Go news was bonkers? We covered multiple lawsuits revolving around the game, including one lodged against Nintendo and Niantic by one Jeffrey Marder of New Jersey, who accused the companies of enticing people to trespass on his property and profiting from that act. That suit was consolidated into a single class-action with several other suits, including those from Michigan and Florida. At the time, Niantic maintained that trespass laws do not cover virtual intrusions, that it is the trespassers who have broken laws, and that a decision against the company could also impact non-games like real estate apps. Legal experts, however, suggested that trespass laws vary from state to state and that neither side had a slam-dunk case.
At the tail end of 2018, it appeared that the case would be settled, and as of this month, we finally understand the terms of that settlement. The proposed settlement requires Niantic to make an effort to avoid placing pokestops and targets on private property (especially homes) going forward; allow property owners to submit a form to request the removal of virtual bits placed within 40m of homes; resolve most petitions within two weeks; warn raid groups over 10 people to behave; and work with public parks’ rules and operational hours. The class action plaintiffs also sought $1000 each and attorneys’ fees.
(All of which probably should have been things Niantic thought about before launching a game like this, especially given that it had already launched a game like this. Why did anybody need to go to court for this?)
This lawsuit was far from the only one that plagued Pokemon Go and the MMOARG genre over the last few years; Niantic settled a lawsuit over its botched Chicago event for $1.5M last year, and in 2017 Milwaukee County in Wisconsin settled a lawsuit over its parks ordinance, which required video game developers like Niantic to obtain park permits before using those parks as MMOARG destinations.