The legal boundaries of augmented reality are about to be tested in court thanks to Pokemon Go.
Polygon has dug up a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of New Jersey resident Jeffrey Marder, who alleges Niantic placed Pokestops and gyms on private property without the owners’ consent. He argues this has led to at least five strangers walking up to his door to ask if they can catch Pokemon in his backyard, and extensive loitering around his home.
The case’s class-action status means other disgruntled property owners who aren’t thrilled about Pokemon trainers hanging around their property may join in, and eventually set a legal precedent about how private land can be represented in digital spaces.
As the lawsuit argues, “the intentional, unauthorized placement of Pokestops and Pokemon gyms on or near the property of Plaintiff and other members of the proposed class constitutes a continuing invasion of the class members’ use and enjoyment of their land, committed by Niantic on an ongoing basis for Defendants’ profit.”
This was one of the considerations developer Raph Koster recently warned about, pointing out that the location of objects like Pokestops in augmented reality games could directly impact home value or quality of life.
While the courts have yet to decide how legally liable Niantic is for trespassing instances noted in the case, it is worth noting that Pokemon Go was recently updated to contain explicit warnings against trespassing and other dangerous behavior players must acknowledge in order to continue play.