Pokemon Go Creators Face Lawsuit Over Players' Trespassing

A man says the virtual creatures were placed on his property without permission.

ByABC News
August 2, 2016, 1:33 PM

— -- A New Jersey man has filed a federal lawsuit against the makers of the popular Pokemon Go video game for placing the virtual creatures on his property without permission, which “caused Pokemon Go players to interfere with [his] use and enjoyment of his property,” according to court documents.

Jeffrey Marder of West Orange, New Jersey, filed the proposed class action lawsuit in Northern California’s U.S. District Court claiming the game's developer, Niantic, “made unauthorized use” of his and other people’s properties by placing PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms -- virtual meeting points key to playing the game -- and thus encouraged "Pokemon Go’s millions of players to make unwanted incursions onto the properties" of him and others who may have been affected.

The game uses smartphones' cameras and GPS capabilities to superimpose creatures known as Pokemon, as well as meeting points like PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms, over real-world imagery and maps. A player's objective is to capture Pokemon by travelling around on foot.

Nintendo and The Pokemon Company were also named as defendants in the lawsuit because of their interest in the Pokemon brand.

The lawsuit states that “during the week of Pokemon Go’s release, strangers began lingering outside of his home with their phones in hand,” and “at least five individuals knocked on [his] door and asked for access to [his] backyard in order to ‘catch’ Pokemon that the game had placed at [his] residence ... without [his] permission.”

Marder is the only person named as a plaintiff, with the lawsuit stating that the number of people who may potentially be interested in suing “is uncertain and can only be ascertained through appropriate discovery.”

However, at least one person mentioned in the lawsuit as being possibly affected by the placement of the virtual creatures told ABC News that it really wasn’t a problem.

“It was barely a nuisance; it’s been a net positive, and we’ve managed to meet a bunch of our neighbors,” said Boon Sheridan, a user experience designer in Holyoke, Massachusetts, who lives in an old church where a Pokemon Gym was placed. “I asked to have it removed and Niantic removed it within 48 hours.”

“I’m more shocked by being named in someone’s lawsuit, because I had no problem with it,” he added, but clarified that he was not calling for the suit to be dropped necessarily.

Niantic did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment on the lawsuit. Nintendo referred ABC journalists to a PR firm representing the Pokemon Company, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

There have been reports of the game's drawing people to sensitive locations. In July, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., asked people to stop playing the game inside the facility.

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