What happens when people playing an "augmented reality" game on their smartphone become a real-world nuisance? U.S. District Judge James Donato of the Northern District of California is set to oversee test cases delving into that question.
Property owners from across the country have sued the companies behind Pokémon Go, the wildly popular mobile game that unleashed hordes of players on the physical world this summer in search of virtual creatures to catch, train, and do combat with on their smartphones. Lawyers at Pomerantz are pursuing nuisance claims on behalf a proposed nationwide class of people whose property abuts locations where rare Pokémon spawn and players gather en masse at odd hours.
The defendants have taken a fighting posture by bringing on top-flight privacy defense lawyers. Niantic Inc., the software developer behind the game, has brought on Cooley's Michael Rhodes and The Pokemon Co., which shares in the revenues from the game, has hired Greenberg Traurig's Ian Ballon. Donato is set to hold the first hearing in the cases in late January.