Pokémon STOP! Risks Pokémon GO Poses for Companies

The augmented reality game Pokémon GO is posing challenges to companies as a result of employees, and non-employees, playing at their offices.

We’ve all read the stories about what can happen while playing the game.

There was the woman who got stuck in a tree, the Senator who played the game on the Senate floor and the list goes on.

But what happens when a company’s employees and others are drawn into the game at the workplace.


There are three legal Pokémon-potholes companies should be aware of and that should influence how they manage game play, Philippe Weiss, managing director of Seyfarth Shaw at Work, told Bloomberg BNA.

This subsidiary of Seyfarth Shaw LLP offers clients legal compliance and consulting services, and its “interactive training courses cover employment, business communication, corporate ethics and compliance issues,” according to its website.

The three ‘Ds’ that companies should focus on and that should guide their strategies to manage play at the workplace, Weiss said, are:

• Death or destruction by Pokémon;
• Data violation; and
• Dereliction of duty.

There’s a risk when people don’t pay attention to what they’re doing, like the two men who fell off a cliff, so companies should secure their perimeters against their own employees and third parties that might come onto their premises, Weiss said.

Facilities that are rarely used such as warehouses “are hunting grounds for Pokémon GO players,” he said.

One agricultural business discovered that a player almost fell down an unused grain elevator while trying to capture a screeching Golbat, Weiss said.

In addition, “anything that’s an exposed hazard is going to be a potential liability,” he said.

Regarding the second ‘D,’ if people are accessing the game through office equipment, your data might become accessible, so additional encryption could be necessary, Weiss warned.

Finally, many clients are reporting that players are coming in late to work, playing at work and acting “disconnected” at the workplace, he said.

Managers think this is a “passing fad,” and because it’s a game, employers might be less apt to be proactive and enforce performance and electronic systems policies, Weiss said.

But if they set a precedent of tacit agreement with employees not complying with company policy, this can later come back to “bite you,” he said.

“The fact that this is a game doesn’t mean policies take a back seat.” Weiss said, because this can lead to a later inability to protect a company’s policies and expectation in future lawsuits.

Augmented reality games may be a new phenomenon but this could just be the “tip of the iceberg,” so let’s get the managers on board now before this becomes more critical, Weiss said.

“It’s time to say Pokémon STOP!” he said.

To keep up with the latest legal news and analysis, take a free trial to United States Law Week.