Pokémon Go-related trespassing has become a real Poké-problem nationwide and at least one New Jersey man has had enough.
Bloomberg reports West Orange, NJ native Jeffrey Marder has filed a federal suit against Niantic, the creator of Pokémon Go, accusing the company of showing a “flagrant disregard for the foreseeable consequences of populating the real world with virtual Pokémon.”
According to the complaint, at least five Pokémon hunters have come to Marder’s house since the game launched in July, asking for access to his back yard in order to catch Pokémon.
The mobile game’s augmented reality feature and GPS locator work in tandem to project the cute cartoon characters onto real-life environments, compelling Pokémon trainers to scour neighborhoods and rural areas in search of the digital creatures.
Marder’s is the first reported civil lawsuit filed against “Go” since the game’s launch, but legal experts expect more will follow.
“There’s going to be 200 lawsuits, that’s for sure,” video game attorney Ryan Morrison tells Bloomberg. “If the court comes along and says this kind of suit is OK, what a terrible blow it will be to augmented reality technology.”
At least one industry analyst doesn’t expect Pokémon-related trespassing lawsuits will hurt Niantic or Nintendo’s (NTDOY) bottom line.
“Initially it won’t because it’s hard to prove,”says Joost van Dreunen, CEO of the video game industry research firm SuperData. “When you are playing the game in the real world and you cross a boundary, it’s on you. It’s very hard to prove they encourage people to trespass.”
A recent Pokémon Go software update added a disclaimer to the mobile app warning users not to trespass on private property while playing the game.
Van Dreunen anticipates the worst-case scenario for the game’s makers is a class-action settlement.
“I imagine that there will be some sort of settlement coming from the parent companies that have a stake in Niantic, like Nintendo, and they’ll settle out of court,” he said.