In July, a federal court in Wisconsin granted a preliminary injunction to Candy Lab, the maker of the popular “Pokemon Go” game, after Milwaukee County required the company to obtain a permit in order for players of its games to play in the county’s parks.
In 2016, Candy Lab released Pokemon Go, which allows players to use smartphones with location-sensing technology and “augmented reality”—whereby the phone displays an image suggesting that the image is physically present in front of the user—to play the game in a particular geolocation. The runaway success of the game meant that many public parks became popular with players, including Milwaukee County’s Lake Park. In summer 2016, the county observed large numbers of people playing the game in the park, and reported increases in litter, trampling of grass and flowers, players staying past the park’s closing hours. The park additionally had inadequate bathrooms, unauthorized vending, parking problems, and traffic congestion as a result of the game. The county responded with an ordinance prohibiting virtual- and augmented-reality games in the county’s parks, except with a permit. In 2017, Candy Lab released another augmented-reality game, Texas Rope ‘Em, but refused to obtain a permit from the county. Candy Lab then sued the county, claiming a violation of its free speech rights.