A new craze has hit the nation, scratch that, world. If you’re like me you remember Pokemon as a 1995-2000 or so media franchise of games, movies, toys, trading cards, comic books, and TV shows. You probably also remember a friend, classmate, or neighbor that didn’t stop using fictional Poke Balls to ‘train’ any and all Pokemon.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon The Japanese invented region/universe was fictional back then. I don’t mean the 90s. The 90s were very real (believe me). Push forward to 2016 and the region is anytime and everywhere. People take a break from Reddit and Tinder to order pizza from their smart phones. People run out of laundry soap and push an Amazon.com button and it’s soon after, delivered.
GPS, Geo-tagging, location services, and all related are part of our life today like Family Matters or Step by Step. It’s a Full House or restaurant of people looking at their phones and doing whatever they’re doing and not too concerned if you care. You just don’t get it.
So what perfect timing for an interactive game for people who are 10, I mean 31 (Pokemon Go is for all ages my 31 year-old boyfriend tells me).
How did this start and where does it lead?
“John Hanke, chief executive of Niantic Labs, the software development company (and former Google property) responsible for Pokémon Go, was inspired by one of Google’s infamous April Fools’ jokes. For April Fools’ Day in 2014, Google created a “game” in which users looked on Google Maps for Pokémon a la “I Spy” or “Where’s Waldo”…Accompanying the game was a heart-pounding, highly produced video showing people out in the actual world climbing mountains, riding camels across the desert and taking to the sea in order to find Pokémon. The goal? To win a job as “Pokémon Master” at Google.”
The most striking thing about the video that came with this April Fools joke is that part of the video predicts the game will be a huge success in the near future. This type of success was something Seth Fischer, founder and chief investment officer at Oasis Management, one of Asia’s best known hedge funds, could have said, “I told you so.”
Fischer who was stunned by “Candy Crush” and other popular game type apps, tried to get Nintendo to break out of their console mode and break into Apple and Google/Droid App software. His insight and business ideas weren’t appreciated at the time. However, he explains that “[His] next focus with Nintendo is for them to focus on monetizing the rest of their 4,000 patents for mobile gaming, multi-player gaming, et cetera. I think they could be making 30 to 60 billion yen ($290 million to $570 million) annually from licensing.”
So what does this mean for Businesses?
For the app industry in particular, in addition to licensing, in-app advertising and social utility could be ground-breaking. According to Bloomberg Intelligence, 8% of the mobile gaming industry’s $39 billion in global revenue now comes from in-game advertising. Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Jitendra Waral explains, “Location-based advertising should get a boost in augmented-reality gaming because of games like Pokémon Go. It’s going to spur more intellectual property towards geo-tagging.” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/pokemon-go-restaurants-money-business-new-york-smartphone-app-a7134036.html
More specifically, people developing new apps can incorporate the popularity of geo-tagging in into their process (Note: Attorneys at Mohr Law can help you patent the app and copyright the software codes). Surely, it has already been a success with not just games, but apps like Yelp, which lead you to the right coffee shop in a strange town when you wish caffeine was in your veins as soon as possible. Or to a Mom and Pop Vietnamese restaurant that has 4-star pho in a sea of corporate chains.
Businesses can also use Pokemon Go itself if they are so lucky to show up as a ‘Gym’ on the game. It’s not a fitness gym, it’s a location where a Pokemon is standing close by. It could be on your sandwich right in front of you or down the street in front of a Taco Bell. (Try to make sense of it here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gaming/what-to-play/how-do-pokemon-go-gyms-work-tips-on-battling-and-training/).
For example, outside Pacific, a bar in Brooklyn, put up a funny, yet inviting warning when they became a Gym on the game: “Pokémon are for paying customers ONLY!” Co-owner Ryan Kahl said, “We had one guy run to the back because he had a rare Pokémon…“It’s been a little weird.” Hopefully customers are making purchases. Kahl and other business owners have already begun thinking-What if I could pay to advertise in either Pokemon Go or another similar geotagging app and in turn get people into my restaurant or store?
Pokemon Go has even been good for non-profits. An example is this Muncie Animal Shelter in Indiana. They are encouraging Pokemon Go players to pick up a shelter dog before hunting Pokemon. It’s a win win. The dog and person both get a walk. The dog gets to be confused at what this person walking them is doing going from a wooded area to a convenient store and stopping in the middle of the street or sidewalk along the way. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/animal-shelter-pokemon-go-walk-dogs_us_578661f5e4b08608d332761f
Violating Social Norms or Laws or Both?
Business owners who are ‘Gyms’ love it. Business owners who are not on the Pokemon Go scene may be putting out good vibes, juju, or doing rain dances-hoping for rare Pokemon to make a visit.
Some are not so happy though. Lawyers like the ones writing for Associate’s Mind and other blogs, ask, “Should Nintendo & developer Niantic have given more consideration to where the Pokemon (AR objects) are placed? Do they have the right to place them wherever they want? In a lake? In a public park? In your backyard?…Does owning property in “the real world” extend property rights to any geo-locative, intellectual property elements that may be placed on it?”
Pokemon players ripped this with comments explaining that you can catch a Pokemon that’s in someone’s yard by not going into the yard. What I love is that some of the comments come from lawyers who play Pokemon Go. Motion to dismiss me from the dinner table so I can go play on my phone?
How Do You Protect Your App From IP Infringements and Other Concerns
Say you have an app and are worried someone will copy it and/or use it for things you disapprove (intellectual property infringements, crime, and whatever else). What do you do? I took the time to read most of Pokemon Go’s Terms and Conditions so you don’t have to. I pulled out some of the most salient provisions. This is what Nianic, sets forth:
Rights in App
Subject to your compliance with these Terms, Niantic grants you a limited nonexclusive, nontransferable, non-sublicensable license to download and install a copy of the App on a mobile device and to run such copy of the App solely for your own personal, noncommercial purposes. Except as expressly permitted in these Terms, you may not: (a) copy, modify, or create derivative works based on the App; (b) distribute, transfer, sublicense, lease, lend, or rent the App to any third party; (c ) reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the App; or (d) make the functionality of the App available to multiple users through any means. Niantic reserves all rights in and to the App not expressly granted to you under these Terms.
Content and Content Rights
For purposes of these Terms: (a) “Content” means the text, software, scripts, graphics, photos, sounds, music, videos, audiovisual combinations, interactive features, works of authorship of any kind, and information or other materials that are posted, generated, provided, or otherwise made available through the Services; and (b) “User Content” means any Content that Account holders (including you) provide to be made available through the Services. Content includes without limitation User Content. Subject to your compliance with these Terms, Niantic grants you a personal, noncommercial, nonexclusive, nontransferable, non-sublicensable, revocable license to download, view, display, and use the Content solely in connection with your permitted use of the Services.
Niantic does not claim any ownership rights in any User Content, and nothing in these Terms will be deemed to restrict any rights that you may have to use and exploit your User Content. Subject to the foregoing, Niantic and its licensors (including TPC and TPCI) exclusively own all right, title, and interest in and to the Services and Content, including all associated intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that the Services and Content are protected by copyright, trademark, and other laws of the United States and foreign countries. You agree not to remove, alter, or obscure any copyright, trademark, service mark, or other proprietary rights notices incorporated in or accompanying the Services or Content.
Conduct, General Prohibitions, and Niantic’s Enforcement Rights
You agree that you are responsible for your own conduct and User Content while using the Services, and for any consequences thereof. Please refer to our Trainer Guidelines (https://pokemongo.nianticlabs.com/support/guidelines/en) for information about the kinds of conduct and User Content that are prohibited while using the Services. By way of example, and not as a limitation, you agree that when using the Services and Content, you will not:
NOTE-THERE’S A HUGE LIST UNDER CONDUCT OF THINGS YOU WILL NOT DO: https://www.nianticlabs.com/terms/pokemongo/en
THERE’S ALSO TRAINER GUIDELINES: https://support.pokemongo.nianticlabs.com/hc/en-us/articles/221993967
And a separate terms of conditions for copyright: https://nianticlabs.com/copyright
How Do I Manage to Work A Job or Be In A Relationship When Pokemon Go Exists/Is My Lover An Adult Child-Is This Ok?
They say you win some and lose some when it comes to relationships. And I’m no relationship expert or counselor.
Unless your lover decides to quit their job and become a full-time player like Tom Currie in New Zealand, you don’t have too much to worry about it. http://www.thewrap.com/new-zealand-man-quits-job-to-become-full-time-pokemon-go-player/
If they do think this is a good idea at least they should monetize their services like Ivy St Ive. She advertises her services on Craigslist, showcasing not just her Golbat (a character from Pokemon) tattoo, but her credentials. They include: “a history of playing Pokémon since 1997, and [a] ranking as a Level 15 trainer in Pokémon Go.” Her service offering is to “walk around in 1-4 hour shifts signed in to your account capturing every single Pokémon [she] come[s] into contact with, activating every Poke Stop I pass and walking nonstop to help hatch your eggs,” all for $20/hour
Even Hillary Clinton is on board. At a rally she mentioned people who make apps by saying, “I don’t know who created ‘Pokemon Go,’ but I’ve tried to figure out how we get them to have Pokemon … go … to … the polls,” Clinton said. http://thefederalist.com/2016/07/14/hillary-clinton-just-made-the-most-excruciating-pokemon-go-joke-ever/
Pokemon Go players, bloggers, and talking heads (or some combination of those titles) didn’t think the joke was funny. I personally loved it. She’s right. Maybe more 18-25 year olds (who are we kidding-all ages) would show up and vote if a popular game were tied to it.
But isn’t democracy itself a fun game that should be popular? This also begs the question-why are we not just voting on our phones? Aren’t we there yet?
Pokemon go has led to people being kicked out of a Holocaust Museum, to finding a dead body in a river, to becoming a victim of a mugging, to being run over by a car, to needing to be rescued from a cliff, and to taking Pokemon selfies like no other. This list could go on and it does.
Pokemon Go isn’t going away. Maybe your 31 year-old boyfriend should be grounded from ice cream if he doesn’t put down his phone during dinner. Or, while he’s on his app, you’re putting all sorts of items into your cart on Amazon. Win, win.
At Mohr IP Law we can help you with all the intellectual property needs related to your app creation or business.