20 July 2016

The legal take on Pokémon Go

Lawyers are considering potential legal issues involved with playing the hugely popular new Pokémon Go game.

By Victoria Basham

Ekaterina Minaeva

The Pokémon Go app uses a smartphone’s GPS and clock to determine a player’s location and makes Pokémon characters appear on their phone, which they then have to catch and collect. The characters may be in public places such as parks, beaches and even offices, and players have to go to the locations to find them.

Safety concerns

Some lawyers are claiming the app, an ‘augmented reality’ game, raises legal issues and public safety concerns. In an article for The Hollywood Reporter, Brian Wassom writes that such games can cause competition for the use of the same spaces, disrupting the ability of players and non-players to enjoy them and potentially leading to violence. He also sees the possibility of injury to players, who are ‘wandering through the physical world while staring through a phone screen.’

Peter Pullano makes a similar point in an interview with 13WHAM, in which he raises the possibility of distractions for drivers: ‘Even though you may be looking for your Pikachu while you’re driving, that’s not going to impress your officer.’

Property rights

Meanwhile, at his Associate’s Mind blog, Keith Lee writes that his legal questions include:

·       Does placing an AR object on a person’s property, without their permission, affect their interest in exclusive possession of property?

·       Does owning property in ‘the real world’ extend property rights to any geo-locative, intellectual property elements that may be placed on it?

·       Is placing an AR object on a person’s private property, without their permission, a creation of an attractive nuisance?


Finally, LawNewz makes the point that the game’s terms of service disclaim all liability related to any property damage, personal injury or death that may occur while playing the game, including any claims based on the violation of any other applicable law. It also has a notice that generally requires arbitration of disputes.

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