eSports, Sports, and Trademarks
- Trademark Clearance
Some days it feels as though our entire lives are online — social media interactions and events, online learning, work, leisure pursuits of all kinds — dating and romance, shopping, music, fashion, and even politics. And many, many pictures of cats.
The most recent estimate of the world’s population places it at 7.5 billion people. Of those, 1.8 billion are gamers. That’s a phenomenal number of people. To put it properly in context, there is almost a gamer for every 3 cat pictures on the Internet. Mind blown….
As one might expect with such a huge population, it is broken down into smaller segments. There are those who play games on PC, consoles, Mac, and mobile devices and those who play for fun as opposed to those who do so professionally.
‘eSports’ refers to the world of competitive gaming. All over the world, tournaments are held (and open to spectators both in-person and online) where professional gamers pit their skills against each other. The Global eSports Market Report 2017 shows an industry rapidly growing at over 40% per year and currently worth $696 billion. A quick ExaMatch™ search shows 934 trademarks listing ‘eSports’ as a product, 870 of which are live. But this doesn’t show the whole story.
From an intellectual property perspective, one immediate difference between ‘eSports’ events and regular sporting events emerges. In regular sports, while many teams or organizations will have trademarked their names, logos, or other associated brands, the sport that they are playing in and of itself, is not and cannot be trademarked as a sport. With eSports tournaments however, the games that they are playing consist almost entirely of various forms of intellectual property. While it is often the case that the developers of a particular game will be the sponsors of a tournament, it is not necessarily the case. This is especially true of smaller tournaments or in regions where tournaments are in their infancy. This brings a host of intellectual property concerns to bear in the development, structure and promotion of such events in varying regions.
To get a sense of the full picture, you need to look at the industry behind the industry. A search for trademarks listing ‘computer games’ as a product will return 636,578 results with 478,385 of these live trademarks. And trademarks are not the only intellectual property that applies — copyright issues are rife also.
For contrast then to the ‘real’ world of regular sports, a search for ‘sports events’ or ‘sporting events’ returns 353,930 trademarks of which 263,199 are live. These, of course, cover every kind of sporting event imaginable worldwide. But again, this doesn’t show the full picture. Trademarks listing ‘sporting goods’ as a product are featured in 199, 635 applications. As with eSports, there are multiple segments in this marketplace that won’t necessarily be covered under the categories above.
Much like eSports, the sports world has a very different set of commercial needs and concerns than the rather more straightforward business of selling goods or services. Many challenges and pitfalls await those people and organizations involved with growing and promoting their sport of choice.
For eSports and sports brands that want to create and grow brand value, or protect or optimize their brand presence, Corsearch can support trademark and brand needs with unrivalled end-to-end services and tools.