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Teenagers and young adults are getting up in the mornings and leaving their houses to walk and ride around their communities with their friends. They are returning home at dinner time, tired and sunburned. It seems like we have been transported back to the 1950's in a "Back to the Future" culture shock that is sweeping the nation. It is all due to the influence of a new mobile app: Pokémon GOTM. Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have teamed up with Niantic, Inc. on an "augmented reality" mobile app, allowing diehard Pokémon fans to finally become Pokémon masters. The result is a nationwide sensation, sending users in search of Pokémon, Pokémon items and Pokémon gyms lurking in their communities. What makes the mobile app special is its use of "augmented reality," where Pokémon will appear as if they've been spotted in the real world. Your mobile device presents a map... 

Teenagers and young adults are getting up in the mornings and leaving their houses to walk and ride around their communities with their friends. They are returning home at dinner time, tired and sunburned. It seems like we have been transported back to the 1950's in a "Back to the Future" culture shock that is sweeping the nation. It is all due to the influence of a new mobile app: Pokémon GOTM.

Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have teamed up with Niantic, Inc. on an "augmented reality" mobile app, allowing diehard Pokémon fans to finally become Pokémon masters. The result is a nationwide sensation, sending users in search of Pokémon, Pokémon items and Pokémon gyms lurking in their communities.

What makes the mobile app special is its use of "augmented reality," where Pokémon will appear as if they've been spotted in the real world. Your mobile device presents a map powered by GPS, using real-world locations to spot Pokémon and collect items. When you find one, the game opens up your smartphone's camera, giving you a view of Pokémon in the real world. Once you spot them, you flick a Poké Ball toward the creature to capture it.

You might be asking yourself - why is this being discussed in an IP blog? Being an Intellectual Property attorney, I was naturally curious of what IP was associated with this app. Three forms of Intellectual Property support this app: patent, trademark and copyright. How this IP foundation was assembled is a lesson for aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs.

The app design and corresponding patent rights did not happen overnight and have actually been in the works for at least four years, (probably longer). Niantic, Inc., the company behind the application software, filed a provisional patent application on July 31, 2012. The corresponding utility patent was filed a year later on July 31, 2013. The patent recently issued on December 29, 2015 (Kornmann et al, Systems and Methods for Filtering Communication Within a Location-based Game, U.S. Pat. No. 9,226,106 (Dec. 29, 2015)). A continuation was filed on December 28, 2015.

The Pokémon Company is responsible for brand management, licensing, and marketing of the Pokémon world. Pokémon was launched in Japan in 1996 and today is one of the most popular children's entertainment properties in the world. Theirtrademarks and copyrighted material are known worldwide.

Nintendo Co., Ltd. filed three trademark applications for "Pokémon GO" on March 6, 2016 in three classes: IC 009 for programs for consumer video game apparatus ... (Ser. No. 86928567), IC 041 for providing non-downloadable images via communication by handheld game apparatus with liquid crystal displays ... (Ser. No. 86928578) and IC 028 for Consumer video game apparatus ... (Ser. No. 86928572).

The Pokémon GOTM sensation is the result of a long term plan and great collaboration from highly creative people. Their ultimate financial success will be possible due not only to their creativity and hard work, but their strategic planning and investment in protecting their intellectual property rights. If you want to know how to follow their lead, call us and we will be your guide.

Susan L. Crockett, Esq.

(Pokémon GOTM trainer "SusieFace" currently level 7)


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