Written by Richard Wee & Wong Zi Ying

Introduction

In the previous article, we introduced some of the legal disputes in esports and looked at a few examples of it. In this article, we continued to explore different legal disputes in esports such as intellectual property infringement and class action lawsuits in esports.

This case concerns trademark infringement whereby a former country musician, Boo McAfee filed a lawsuit against Torque Esports on 31 July 2019 in Illinois federal court, for using the term “World’s Fastest Gamer”. Even though Boo McAfee sues for damages, his ultimate objective is to stop Torque Esports from using the term “World’s Fastest Gamer”. As such, Torque Esports, an electronic gaming company might be forced to rename its TV and event brand. 

To read more, kindly visit the link below: 

http://www.teribuhl.com/2020/01/08/torque-esports-battles-important-trademark-infringement-case-without-informing-investors-game-v-mlllf/

This relates to a copyright dispute in May 2020 whereby Ubisoft sued Apple and Google after both companies did not remove a game which is known as Area F2, from their App Store and Play Store respectively. It was alleged that Area F2 is too similar to Rainbow Six: Siege, be it the operator selection screen or the final scoring screen. However, Ubisoft voluntarily dismissed its action without prejudice on 22 May 2020.

To read more, kindly visit the link below: 

https://www.scribd.com/document/442300526/McAfee-vs-Torque-Esports-Trademark-Infringement-Complaint-July-31-2019

This concerned a patent dispute which started in 2017 whereby Gamevice filed a suit, alleging that the Nintendo Switch was too similar to Gamevice’s gaming tablet.

Nevertheless, Nintendo won the lawsuit in March 2020, as it was held that there are still distinctions between the two products. For example, in order for the Gamevice controllers to be functioning, the controllers are required to be used on a tablet. On the other hand, without connecting to the Switch directly, Joy-Con controllers are also functional. 

As a result of losing their case, Gamevice brought an action against Nintendo at the US International Trade Commission (ITC) and an evidentiary hearing was agreed to be held by the ITC.

Please refer to the link below for the details:

https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/13/21177309/nintendo-switch-patent-gamevice-win

This lawsuit started in 2016 whereby Solid Oak Sketches brought an action against 2K Games, Inc. and Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. The defendants were alleged of copyright infringement, as they depicted NBA players’ tattoos including Eric Bledsoe, LeBron James and Kenyon Martin in “NBA2K” video game.  

On 26 March 2020,  the district court for the Southern District of New York made a landmark ruling regarding the film, video game, sports and tattoo industries. The court held that the defendants’ depiction of basketball superstars’ tattoos in “NBA2K” video game was for a “de minimis” use, allowed under the players’ implied license given by the tattoo artists, and fair use of the tattoo itself.

To read more, kindly visit the link below

https://www.loeb.com/-/media/files/pdfs/solid-oak-v-take-two.pdf

This case started in 2018 whereby a Unikrn investor, John Hastings sued Unikrn, Inc, which runs an online esports entertainment and gambling platform. Hastings purchased UnikoinGold Tokens which may be used on Unikrn’s platform to bet on esports titles such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2 and etc. However, it was alleged that the sale of the tokens violated federal securities law.  

Unikrn contended that these disputes should be resolved via arbitration. In March 2020, however, the trial court’s decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals of Washington, that Hastings did not agree to go for arbitration, should there be any dispute arising with regard to the sale of tokens. 

To read more, kindly visit the link below:

https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/4740466/john-hastings-v-unikrn-inc/

On 28 April 2020, a lawsuit was filed against Microsoft whereby a gamer, Donald McFadden alleged that the Xbox One controllers were defective and the design flaw of the controllers would affect the accuracy of gameplay. It was also alleged that Microsoft was aware of this issue since 2014 through consumers’ complaints, warranty requests and its pre-release testing.

However, Microsoft did not disclose the defects and refused to repair controllers without charges. The warranty is only 90 days, as compared to the Xbox game consoles which have one year’s warranty. As such, McFadden seeks redress for violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act by Microsoft.

On 11 August 2020, Microsoft filed a motion to compel arbitration at Washington Western District Court.

To read more, kindly visit the link below:

https://www.classaction.org/media/mcfadden-v-microsoft-corporation.pdf

 

Conclusion

To echo our conclusion in Part One of this Article, it would be prudent to engage effective and relevant legal support to manage and monitor transactions and matters to evade disputes. Whilst some disputes are unfortunately inevitable, but if matters were sufficiently legally dealt with at the inception of the matter, the extent of dispute may be limited.  

However, if disputes cannot be avoided, perhaps all the parties may refer to the Arbitration Court for Esports (ACES) which is established by the World Esports Association (WESA). WESA enacted an Arbitration Rules which governed all ESports-related disputes. Currently, there are no uniform rules and regulations governing esports. Countries such as Malaysia had taken the initiative and published a strategic plan for esports development for 2020-2025. It is possible that in the future, esports may be regulated under new laws, rules and regulations.

Published on 8 September 2020

Photo by Sean Do on Unsplash

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