Pokemon GO lawsuit settlement will tackle game's trespassing problem

Though it was a hit with fans, popular mobile game Pokemon GO spurred complaints far and wide from businesses and homeowners plagued by players seeking Pokemon only they could see. The nuisance was extreme in some cases, prompting multiple lawsuits eventually consolidated into a class action suit against Niantic, the company behind Pokemon GO. At the heart of the matter is an important question: what is considered trespassing when it comes to augmented reality?

The issue

Pokemon GO is an AR game that displays pokemon in various real-world locations. Players find the virtual creatures by searching for them using a smartphone; the entire point is to get up and walk around in the real world, but that also became a problem in some places.

The augmented reality game places some PokeStops and Gyms near or on private property, resulting in players gathering in large numbers around businesses and homes. Issues with trespassing quickly surfaced amid Pokemon GO hype, and questions were raised over whether a virtual object placed on private property could be considered trespassing.

Society will still have to work out the answer to that question, but for its part, Niantic has a solution to its Pokemon GO problems. A settlement has been proposed that, if accepted by the case's judge, will put the matter to rest and give troubled homeowners a chance at relief.

What Niantic offered

As part of its proposed settlement, Niantic will create a database of complaints as a way to help avoid putting Pokemon GO elements in places where they're likely to cause disruptions. As well, the company will remove these AR destinations from within 40 meters of single-family residential properties if it receives a complaint, and it will try to resolve complaints within 15 days.

Niantic will use services and reviews from users for data that'll help it deal with any problems that arise, and it will also make it possible for park authorities to submit requests for Pokemon GO to honor the destinations's operating hours. Though the company cannot control individuals, it will start issuing a message advising its users to be mindful of their environment when the system detects more than 10 players in the same area.

An independent firm will be responsible for auditing Niantic to make sure it sticks with its settlement terms over the course of three years — assuming the proposal is accepted.