Esports and IP Rights: Why Should You Protect Your Intellectual Property?

April 25, 2023

Quickly evolving industries, like gaming and esports, are exciting spaces and foster innovation. However, those innovators could be doing all the heavy lifting only for others to exploit their hard work if they’re not careful with their intellectual property (IP) rights.

The Esports Industry Rests on IP Rights

The esports industry inherently rests on IP rights, including trademarks, copyrights, patent registrations and trade secrets. These rights protect the intangible identities of organizations that often are their primary source of revenue.

Esports is an already crowded marketplace that continues to add more brands daily. Due to this, organizations are constantly needing new ways to define their brand in a way that stands out from all the noise. These brand identities encompass things such as an organization’s name, logo, visuals, slogans and color schemes. These extend into everything a brand creates in order to ensure that their identity is clearly recognizable and stands out from competitors. For example, most people recognize the Nike Swoosh or the Cloud9 logo on their own, regardless of whether the brand text accompanies.

This branding is utilized everywhere to remain cohesive. Organizations must adapt their brands for websites, merchandise, social media, streaming and sponsorships. Otherwise, one conglomerate could look like multiple, slightly different brands. Not only that, but this disorganization only makes it easier for scammers to prey on, and rip off, that brand.

Infringement Impacts Revenue and Reach

In the esports sector, such infringement can take a variety of forms, and each one cuts into a brand’s revenue and connection with its fans. Examples include the creation of fake goods (merch), fake websites (including domain registration) and even fake social media accounts.

Therefore, protecting brand elements through government-registered safeguards is essential. These are typically the first point of contact between an organization and its fans, sponsors or even potential investors.

Esports Brand Protection

In the esports and gaming-adjacent industries, brands have a multitude of brand protection avenues of which they must be cognizant, such as trademark, patent, copyright and trade secrets. Throughout this series we address:

  • What protections are available
  • What factors go into a brand deciding to enforce its IP
  • The effects of digital industries outpacing IP law

While initially registering IP and creating a cohesive brand package is an important first step in the esports ecosystem, it’s only level one. Thankfully, though, it’s a great first step and you’ll be ahead of a large portion of your competitors just by protecting the brand you worked so hard to build. That first step may in fact save you from needing to progress any further down the IP rabbit hole.

For further information regarding protecting your Esports intellectual property, contact KJK attorneys Paige Rabatin (PMR@kjk.com; 216.736.7270) or Scott Norcross (SAN@kjk.com; 216.736.7264).