esports is a booming business, and things like disputes over contracts and investments in teams mean that the legal side of it is involved more and more. Take for example the disagreement between many CS:GO players and the PEA where there was a dispute due to ambiguity over whether teams in the PEA could play elsewhere. More and more often legal representation is needed to solve situations, and that’s why the legal side of esports is getting more publicity.
Why do you think it is important to have a legal practice dedicated solely to esports?
AB: With countries step-by-step recognising esports and gamers as a profession and athletes, the status of esports is evolving quickly. This quick evolution also brings along legal obstacles, which may be difficult to understand and handle for someone with a non-legal background or experience. As the majority of Gamers are quite young and still newly exposed to this industry, they need to be aware of their rights and options, especially before signing or agreeing to anything. A lot of powerful and different actors are entering the esports & gaming industries, but for now, there is no clear legal framework or standardisation. That is why we believe it is important to help structure and build this framework.
Furthermore, it is also important to have a Legal Practice dedicated to this industry, as law firms outside of the esports & gaming industries still lack the understanding/knowledge to deal with these specific cases.
What kind of legal issues can esports teams face?
AB: That’s a very good question. Firstly it depends on the level of the team: the more a team wants to become professional, the more issues they may face. With more expansion and growing fame, it is likely that issues may arise from player contracts, sponsorship contracts, licensing contracts, merchandising contracts, etc. These may become obstacles along the way of becoming a professional and stable esports team.
Additionally, when teams want to become a brand with their team name and their logo, they may miss out on significant Intellectual Property rights, which can cause costly disputes in the future. Here I particularly refer to Trademark and Design law and the cases I had on logos and brand names being dilutive and too similar to cause confusion within the esports industry.
I have also been advising and designing several player agreements, from European to North American teams. When I speak to the teams about key aspects which need to be covered, I mostly understand quickly that there is a general lack of experience and knowledge in contract law. I understand that using a google template may be more convenient, however, it is not ideal for the long term.
Are there particular challenges handling law in regards to esports as opposed to elsewhere?
AB: esports is obviously a new field for many sectors, and also for the law. The law, for example, does not evolve or change for Property law the way it does for the law dealing with esports & gaming. It’s not static and it has been moving in different directions. With more concepts combining gambling and esports, different aspects need to be considered and legally addressed. It also makes a difference where countries have already legalised esports and recognise gamers as athletes and a profession. In these cases, we can already witness the construction of a regulatory system. As the trend continues, a lot more laws and regulations will be introduced by different countries, perhaps dealing with the legal challenges in their own way.
Contact us with your inquiry on Player Agreements or Intellectual Property matters in esports at firstname.lastname@example.org or directly over gleetz.gg
The full interview with gamereactor.uk can be found here.
Alexandra Melissa Berthold is the Co-founder & Legal Counsel at https://gleetz.gg, as well as the CEO of gleetz.gg Legal Services. She holds a LLB in Law and LLM in Intellectual Property & IT Law. Having worked for different companies in the Contracts department, Alexandra combines her knowledge of esports and the law to specialise in esports law.