By: Alex Lindvall
The new Pokémon GO App is now the largest mobile game in U.S. history—bigger than Angry Birds, Candy Crush Saga, Clash of Clans, etc., which are all worth billions of dollars each. In the first week of its release, the mobile app caused Nintendo’s stock value to rise by approximately $8 billion.
The app accesses your phone’s GPS and camera to allow you to capture Pokémon in your own backyard. The overwhelming popularity of this game, however, has produced unintended consequences and presents many new legal questions.
For example, imagine the programmers placed a Pokémon in the middle of a road. Would the company be liable for a person who was injured trying to capture that Pokémon? It is very possible that there is a Pokémon located somewhere on your property right now. Users of the game will be tempted to enter upon your property to capture that Pokémon. Have the creators of the game infringed on your property rights? There are likely Pokémon located in all sorts of public forums. If the government attempted to restrict the app from placing Pokémon in certain areas would that violate the creators’ First Amendment right?
If this all sounds ridiculous—which to some extent it is—just imagine the following scenario: Many children play this game. Unbeknownst to you, the creators of the game have placed a Squirtle (see picture below) on your property. A neighborhood child trespasses on your property to catch him. While on your property, the child gets seriously injured and his parents sue. The Arizona courts have held that “[a] possessor of land is subject to liability for bodily harm to young children [on his property] caused by a[n]…artificial condition…” Are you liable? Have the creators of the game placed an “attractive nuisance” on your property?
These questions and more will likely have to be answered because of this game.