Competitive video gaming (esports) is a global phenomenon, and a multi-billion-dollar industry. The budgets for developing some of today’s hottest video games are larger than the budgets for many motion pictures. The revenue generated by these games can be equally as significant. Added to that, live esports events are increasing in size all the time, and will soon reach the levels of traditional sports. As the industry continues to experience exponential growth, the number and complexity of legal issues will only increase.
Our Video Gaming & Esports Practice is a multi-office, cross-practice team with a deep knowledge base. We advise video game designers, publishers and distributors with respect to licensing and litigation; colleges and universities with regard to establishing and maintaining esports programs; and professional esports organizations with regard to investments, acquisitions and branding. Our team understands this international industry, and many of us are gamers. This perspective allows us to support our esports and video gaming clients with creative business strategies and legal advice on a variety of potential legal issues.
Through our “Lawyers With Game” video series, we highlight many of the legal issues facing the video game industry. We have covered everything from Name, Image & Likeness rights in games, to loot boxes, to corporate sponsorships, to employment discrimination issues.
Below are some representative examples of our experience:
- General corporate – commercial agreements, governance, partnerships and new ventures, including esports franchise development
- Financing – debt and equity capital-raising transactions; and esports arena financing
- Mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures and strategic alliances
- Investments – fund formation and investment opportunities for private equity funds, venture capital funds, wealth funds, strategic investors and family offices
- Esports sponsorships – event contracts and broadcast agreements
- Tax – domestic and international tax planning and Internal Revenue Service inquiries and disputes
Real Estate, including the purchase and sale of land, financing, development, land use rights, zoning, leasing, and appeals
Construction, including the development of arenas and stadiums and surrounding entertainment centers
Intellectual property, including matters related to copyrights, patents, trademarks, licensing and merchandising
Collegiate esports programs, including establishing esports teams and programs, assisting in negotiations with esports leagues and tournament hosts, reviewing league participation agreements, and advising on issues of compliance and policy
Labor and employment, including employment agreements, employee handbook/policy requirements, athlete handbooks, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) matters
Litigation or arbitration, including breach of contract disputes, class actions, and esports league inquiries and disputes
Supply chain logistics
Employee benefits and executive compensation
Cybersecurity and data privacy
For a selection of our video gaming and esports representations, click here.
- A private esports investment fund in advising on entity formation, trademark and branding, and privacy matters in connection with Call of Duty League®, Rocket League® and Valorant® esports teams.
- A mobile interactive entertainment company in helping to create and maintain a large U.S. patent portfolio covering video games that helped make the client a highly lucrative acquisition target.
- A mobile interactive entertainment company in protecting all intellectual property aspects of its video games, including handling the patent prosecution process for its game developments, copyright-protecting its software code, and providing ongoing strategic intellectual property advice.
- A private investment fund in providing advice and counsel in connection with esports investments.
- A university in connection with the development of a varsity esports programs, including reviewing and negotiating esports league participation agreements.
- A university in reviewing and negotiating esports league participation agreements as part of its development of a varsity esports program.
- A university in reviewing and providing advice regarding intellectual property issues in agreements relating to the formation of and participation in esports leagues.
- A real estate development and entertainment operating company in providing comprehensive real estate transaction support and advising on land use matters for the $50 million construction project of a dedicated esports arena in Philadelphia.
- A private company in trademark litigation against one of the world’s largest video game publishers.
- An independent video game developer in the negotiation of development and funding agreements.
- An esports tournament provider in connection with employment, corporate and branding advice.
- A video game developer and publisher in defending against patent litigation in which the patents at issue related to software for performing lip synchronization for video game characters.