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Apr 2017
21
April 21, 2017

Warner Norcross Representing Candy Lab AR in Landmark Augmented Reality Lawsuit

Candy Lab AR, an award-winning company that has developed location-based and augmented reality software since 2011, filed a lawsuit today against Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, in a case that is expected to have far-reaching implications for the fast-growing augmented reality industry.

 
Candy Lab AR recently launched the first location-based augmented reality poker game, “Texas Rope ‘Em!,” where players build their poker hands by carrying their mobile devices to game stops indicated on the game map to obtain new and better cards. Under Milwaukee County Resolution 16-663, companies publishing augmented reality games would be subject to fines and imprisonment unless they first obtained a permit from the County. 
 
Brian Wassom, a partner at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, who is serving as outside counsel to Candy Lab AR, suggested that the resolution was quickly and haphazardly adopted in response to last summer's Pokemon Go craze when thousands of people began searching for virtual monsters. 
 
Although the concept of augmented reality gaming is relatively new, Wassom argues that it's protected by the centuries-old First Amendment law. "The Supreme Court has directly ruled that video games are speech.  Prohibiting a company from publishing augmented reality video games, merely because you're afraid of how people might use those games, is a classic example of prior restraint - something the First Amendment simply does not allow.
 
“If Candy Lab AR had created a book or a map describing where to find certain objects in Milwaukee parks, there is no question the County could not prohibit the company from publishing that content. What makes them think they have the power to regulate the same content just because it is published in the form of augmented reality software?"
 
Andrew Couch, CEO of Candy Lab AR, agrees. "We made the decision to take a stand against this ordinance because it was the right thing to do ̶ not only for our company, but for the entire industry," he said. "Augmented reality promises to be one of the most important media for expression and communication in the 21st century. Combining augmented reality with location-sensing technology not only enables great gameplay, but also provides unique methods of storytelling, art, navigation, commerce, and more. We can't let ill-conceived laws like this one hamper the medium before it even gets off the ground."
 
Wassom, who wrote the book Augmented Reality Law, Privacy and Ethics, is available for media interviews today.
 
About Warner Norcross

By providing discerning and proactive legal advice, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP builds a better partnership with its clients. Warner Norcross is a corporate law firm with 230 attorneys practicing in eight offices throughout Michigan: Grand Rapids, Southfield, Macomb County, Midland, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Holland and Lansing. To learn more, follow us on Twitter @WNJLLP or connect on LinkedIn.
 
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