Esports



With deep cross-industry experience, our team helps major players in the booming esports industry navigate potential legal issues, stay ahead of the competition and reach next-level success.

Our approach

Our firm’s size, geographical reach, cross-practice capabilities and established connections with esports industry leaders enable us to help our clients achieve their most strategic goals.

With more than 30 attorneys, our Esports Industry group brings together legal experience in areas critical to esports, including contract, employment, copyright, trademark, advertising and compliance matters. Our forward-thinking team truly understands all facets of this expanding international market and can confidently guide esports clients through a variety of potential legal issues it may present.

We represent private and public companies around the globe, as well as individuals in the gaming industry. Leveraging our collective experience, we look at the big picture, stay ahead of trends, navigate challenges and proactively identify opportunities for our clients.

We strengthen our connections in this space by sharing our knowledge through hosting and sponsoring esports events, speaking at industry conferences, and authoring articles about the issues facing the esports industry.

Intellectual Property + Licensing

Esports continues to draw millions of viewers and additional revenue, creating new opportunities for a variety of participants and investors. From attracting major corporations seeking endorsement, to sponsorship opportunities, merchandising and branding deals, the rights associated with your brand, logo and/or games are critical assets.

We help teams, publishers and virtual reality developers build their brands, protect and monetize their intellectual property and provide strategies for handling infringement. We counsel on manufacturing, co-branding, endorsement and licensing agreements, as well as copyright, trademarks and patents for brands and merchandising. And if these rights need enforcement, we have experienced IP litigators with software copyright, trademark and other relevant experience at the ready to address IP-related disputes.

Labor and Employment

We assist esports clients with all aspects of labor and employment issues, from drafting employment and professional service contracts to helping players obtain proper visas to compete in international tournaments. We provide employers forward-looking advice relating to unionization and other sensitive issues in the workplace, such as harassment, wage and hour compliance, employee classification and workplace safety and health (OSHA). Our experienced nationwide Labor and Employment Litigation team represents employers in state and federal court in single-plaintiff and class action suits, as well as before administrative agencies such as the NLRB, OSHA, etc.

Governance + Government Investigations

Due to esports’ inherently international character, it is subject to federal and state laws and regulations in the United States and a host of other laws throughout the world.

Already, enforcement actions against esports stakeholders have resulted in millions of dollars in fines and the potential for criminal prosecutions. We expect regulators to increase their scrutiny as esports increase in popularity. Our Government Investigations & White Collar Defense attorneys can help our clients navigate and defend against criminal and civil enforcement actions brought by government investigators.

In addition, we understand the FTC’s endorsement guidelines and the complexity of merchandise manufacturing and licensing and advertising.

Our attorneys also stay ahead of changes to the complex federal and state gambling regulations to ensure developers do not create illegal derivate gambling markings through micro-transactions or other technologies.

Corporate Work

Whether you’re creating, backing, acquiring or selling a team, understanding the esports landscape is key to smart investing. Our experienced M&A counsel know all aspects of the space, from teams and players, to keeping abreast of technological developments impacting esports, to understanding DDoS attacks and more. We help clients unpack the complexities of an esports deal and make smart business decisions.

Comprehensive Services

  • IP licensing, strategy and dispute resolution for copyrights, trademarks, patents and trade secrets
  • Compliance with FTC endorsement guidelines
  • Labor and union issues, including representation before the NLRB and in litigation in state and federal courts
  • Employment and services agreements
  • Employment litigation (discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination and wage and hour)
  • Compliance with workplace safety and health regulations, including OSHA
  • Compliance with federal, state and local wage and hour laws and regulations
  • Public financing and zoning compliance for esports facilities
  • Influencer/player endorsement and appearance contracts
  • Gambling regulations compliance
  • Investments, including creating, backing, acquiring or selling a team
  • Governance and regulatory frameworks for competitions
  • Immigration visas
  • Online streaming platform agreements
  • Merchandise manufacturing and agreements

Presentations

  • “Governance, Player Unions, and Dispute Resolution,” Esports Bar Association Conference, Los Angeles, CA, June 2019 (Irene Scholl-Tatevosyan)
  • “Future Forum: The Future of Esports in L.A.,” Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, Los Angeles, CA, April 2019 (Irene Scholl-Tatevosyan)
  • “Esports Summit: Law, Technology and Governance,” Pepperdine Law School, Los Angeles, CA, March 2019 (Irene Scholl-Tatevosyan)
  • “Who will be the Michael Jordan of Esports? Building the Next Generation of Brand Influencers,” Nixon Peabody & XLIVE Reception Series, Los Angeles, CA, March 2018 (Ellie Altshuler)
  • “Women in Esports and the Video Game Industry,” Esports Activate, Sony PlayStation Theater, New York, March 2018 (Irene Scholl-Tatevosyan)
  • “How the Global Evolution of Esports Will Change the Industry,” Hollywood Entertainment Technology Festival (HET Fest), Los Angeles, November 2017 (Irene Scholl-Tatevosyan)
  • “The Future Is Female—How Women Are Playing a Crucial Role in the Growth of E-sports,” XLIVE, New York, August 2017 (Irene Scholl-Tatevosyan)
  • “Joining Forces—The Importance of Players Unions and Governing Bodies for the Future of the Esports Industry,” XLIVE, New York, August 2017 (Alicia Anderson)
  • Nixon Peabody Esports Intensive,” Nixon Peabody, Los Angeles, CA, June 2017 (Irene Scholl-Tatevosyan)

Publications

  • Ask the Esports Lawyer—How will FTC loot box investigations impact esports influencers?Esports Insider, April 18, 2019 (Michael Strauss)
  • “Demand for Esports-Friendly Venues to Grow,” GlobeSt.com, February 22, 2018 (Rudy Salo and Noah Lebowitz)
  • “Protecting Intellectual Property Rights in the Billion-Dollar World of Virtual Gaming,” TechCrunch.com, January 23, 2018 (Brianna Howard)
  • “Here Are Some of the Legal Implications of Virtual Reality in Esports,” Forbes, October 24, 2017 (Brianna Howard)
  • “What’s in a Name? Choosing and Protecting Your Esports Brand,” Medium.com, October 23, 2017 (Colleen Raimond)
  • “To Avoid Copyright Disaster, the Future of Game Streaming is Licensing,” VentureBeat, August 23, 2017 (Brianna Howard, Jessica Walker, Jason Kunze)
  • “Ten Legal Issues to Watch When it Comes to Esports,” Forbes, May 19, 2017 (Irene Scholl-Tatevosyan, Matt Morris, Chris Queenin and Brianna Howard)
  • “Immigration in Esports: Do Gamers Count as Athletes?” Forbes, May 18, 2017 (Courtney New)

Meet the Esports Insider Hall of Fame Class of 2019

Esports Insider | June 11, 2019

Nixon Peabody’s Los Angeles office hosted the second annual Esports Insider Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Monday night, strengthening the firm’s position as a top legal resource in this burgeoning industry.

Ask the Esports Lawyers – Answering the most important questions in our industry

Esports Insider | June 07, 2019

Los Angeles Labor and Employment partner Ben Kim and associate Irene Scholl-Tatevosyan discussed the most pressing legal issues in esports in this Q+A with Esports Insider.

Alum Ellie Altshuler is Ahead of the Curve

November 05, 2018

Los Angeles Corporate partner Ellie Altshuler is featured in this Loyola Law School article on the path she took to becoming the go-to lawyer for YouTube content creators and social media influencers seeking to expand their brand.

Top 40 under 40

Los Angeles Daily Journal | June 24, 2018

Los Angeles corporate partner Ellie Altshuler was named as one of the top 40 attorneys in California under the age of 40 by the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Protecting Intellectual Property Rights in the Billion-Dollar World of Virtual Gaming

TechCrunch.com | January 23, 2018

Los Angeles commercial litigation associate Brianna Howard weighs in on new patent questions arising at the intersection of virtual reality and esports—two rapidly growing industries.

Click here for the TechCrunch virtual gaming article.

Here are some of the legal implications of virtual reality in esports

Forbes | October 23, 2017

Los Angles commercial litigation associate Brianna Howard is featured in this Q&A about the legal implications of incorporating virtual reality and other new technologies into the esports industry, specifically intellectual property rights.

What’s in a name? Choosing and protecting your esports brand

Medium.com | October 22, 2017

Rochester IP counseling and transactions associate Colleen Raimond authored this article about how esports players and teams can create and protect their brands.

To avoid copyright disaster, the future of game streaming is licensing

VentureBeat | August 22, 2017

Los Angeles commercial litigation associates Brianna Howard and Jessica Walker and Chicago IP litigation associate Jason Kunze contributed this article on how licensing agreements can protect online streaming platforms from copyright infringement in the gaming industry.

Ten legal issues to watch when it comes to eSports

Forbes | May 18, 2017

Associates Irene Scholl-Tatevosyan, Matt Morris, Chris Queenin and Brianna Howard co-authored this article about legal issues the booming eSports industry should consider.

Immigration in esports: Do gamers count as athletes?

Forbes | May 17, 2017

Boston labor and employment counsel Courtney New contributed this article about how the U.S. immigration system’s lack of a definition for “athlete” in the P-1 visa category presents challenges for the booming esports industry.

Back to top