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Niantic to settle Pokemon GO trespassing lawsuit in the US

Published: 14:42, 18 February 2019
Pikachu in the wild, about to be captured
Pikachu the electric type Pokemon

Niantic have decided to settle the class-action lawsuit in the US that came as a result of consolidating numerous nuisance lawsuits filed in 2016, by home owners who weren't happy about crowds of Pokemon GO trainers invading their privacy.

The lawsuit ended up being pretty complicated, even to the point of defining trespassing. After all, the home owners never saw a single Pokemon, nor was it actually on their property.

Niantic argued that this "virtual invasion" does not constitute actual trespassing as "it is less invasive than noise, vibrations, dust, or a chemical cloud, all insufficient for trespass."

Moreover, all Pokemon GO players agree to Terms and Trainer Guidelines, advising them against breaking laws to capture the creatures, so Niantic were technically on the green. 

Nevertheless, the company agreed to settle the case via injunctive relief, i.e. they agreed to certain terms in order to prevent the events in question from happening again.

"Upon complaints of nuisance or trespass and demands of the removal of a 'PokeStop' or 'Gym,' the company will make commercially reasonable efforts to resolve the complaint and communicate a resolution within 15 days", Niantic pledged.

From now on, "owners of single-family residential properties get rights of removal within 40 meters of their properties". Niantic will maintain a database of complaints, so as to avoid "poor placement".

Pokemon GO will also display a warning message when the company's system detects more than 10 players in one place, reminding players to be "courteous and respectful of surroundings". 

Niantic plan to work with user-reviewers, Google Maps and similar services, as well as maintain a mechanism that will let park authorities request their operation hours to be respected.

Interestingly, the plaintiffs plan to seek $1,000 each, whereas the Pomerantz law firm want $8 million in attorney fees and $130,000 in expenses.

Niantic Pikachu behind a table filled with photos Pokemon GO

We'd normally advise Pokemon GO players to mind their step if they don't want Niantic sued off the planet, but knowing US trespassing laws - it's actually amazing how none of them found the mythical, bullet-type Pokemon Glockachu by now.

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