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The smartphone-based game has drawn an immediate, intense following, even among the Hollywood elite. The app prompts users to explore the real world while looking for the fictional pocket monsters — and some of the elusive creatures live in the virtual space atop real, private property.
In the first week following the augmented reality game’s release, Jeffrey Marder noticed strangers lingering outside his home — phones in hand.
“At least five individuals knocked on Plaintiff’s door and asked for access to Plaintiff’s backyard in order to ‘catch’ Pokémon that the game had placed at Plaintiff’s residence in West Orange, New Jersey — without Plaintiff’s permission,” states the lawsuit filed by Marder’s attorney Jennifer Pafiti. “Defendants have shown a flagrant disregard for the foreseeable consequences of populating the real world with virtual Pokémon without seeking the permission of property owners.”
As the lawsuit points out, Marder isn’t the only person who is unhappy with the visits.
Other homeowners, movie theaters and even historical landmarks have expressed concern that their sites were tagged by Niantic as “Pokestops” or “Pokemon Gyms” that give users access to in-game boosts.
Marder is suing The Pokemon Company as well as Nintendo, which co-owns the Pokemon franchise, and Niantic, the company that developed the game.
The proposed class includes: “All persons in the United States who own property (i) the GPS coordinates of which were designated by Defendants, without authorization, as Pokéstops or Pokémon gyms in the Pokémon Go mobile application or (ii) abutting property the GPS coordinates of which were designated by Defendants, without authorization, as Pokéstops or Pokémon gyms in the Pokémon Go mobile application.”
Marder is seeking damages or disgorgement of the Pokemon Go profits, as well as an injunction to prevent in-game GPS tags from being placed on private property without permission. (Read the full complaint here.)
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