Pokémon GO creator Niantic is looking to end a lawsuit that was first started back in 2016, during the height of Pokémon GO’s popularity. The suit was filed by numerous homeowners who believed the company had caused players to trespass onto their property to catch Pokémon or activate Pokéstops.
As detailed by The Hollywood Reporter, the homeowners are proposing a settlement which, if accepted by a judge in California, would force Niantic to implement new features and restrictions into the popular mobile game.
The features are listed below:
- Upon complaints of nuisance or trespass and demands of the removal of a 'PokéStop' or 'Gym', the company will make commercially reasonable efforts to resolve the complaint and communicate a resolution within 15 days.
- Owners of single-family residential properties get rights of removal within 40 metres of their properties.
- Niantic will maintain a database of complaints in an attempt to avoid poor placement of these virtual creatures.
- When Niantic’s system detects a raid of more than 10 players congregating, a warning message will appear on their screens reminding them to be courteous and respectful of surroundings.
- Niantic is also working with user-reviewers and mapping services like Google Maps to also mitigate any problems plus maintaining a mechanism so that park authorities can request a park’s hours of operation be honoured.
- At the company’s expense, Niantic will have an independent firm audit compliance with obligations during a three-year period.
The lawsuit dates back to 2016, when some residents were angered by hundreds of players walking around their private property or near their home. Some residents in Villas of Positano condominium association, located in Florida, described players as “...zombies, walking around bumping into things”.
The case is interesting because it could change the definition of trespassing in the digital era. Is a company, like Niantic, at fault for placing digital items in private locations? How much responsibility should a company face for their players attempting to get these digital items and, in doing so, breaking the law?
For now, it seems Niantic and the homeowners affected by the game will settle soon. If the settlement is accepted by the judge then named plaintiffs in the lawsuit will receive $1,000 (£775) each.