With the eSports industry poised to explode, players and teams need to seriously consider protecting their “brands.” Gamer IDs and team names can both be valuable intellectual property (IP) assets that should be safeguarded via trademark registration.
Gamers Have Valuable eSports IP
In the video game world, your gamertag, team name and logo not only help you stand out from the competition but can also be extremely valuable. Examples of well-known video game teams that hold trademarks include EnVy, Liquid, and Evil Geniuses. Similarly, star gamer Jonathan Wendel has protected his gamer-tag, “FATAL1TY.”
At its core, a trademark is a brand name. A trademark includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.
eSports players and teams can establish rights in a trademark by using it in commerce (i.e., participation in video game competitions) and do not need to register it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). However, it is generally advisable to take the time to file a formal registration. The benefits of federal trademark registration include a legal presumption of your ownership of the mark and your exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration, as well as the ability to bring an infringement action concerning the mark in federal court.
For eSports players and teams looking to attract sponsorships or other forms of funding, it is imperative to protect your brand. Before entering into any legal agreement, companies will want to see that you have secured your intellectual property. Merchandising can also generate significant income for prominent gamers and their teams. However, before you can license your brand, you need to register it.
Seeking Trademark Protection for Your Gamer ID or Team Name
The first step to establishing federal trademark protection is to determine whether your gamer ID or team name is eligible for registration. By conducting a trademark search using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), you can verify that your name is not being used by someone else in the eSports industry. If your chosen name is close to some other well-known gamertag or team name, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Once you have settled on a name, the next big decision is what good and services you want to protect. While there are 45 different classes, common choices in the eSports industry include Class 041, which include “Organizing and conducting competitive and non-competitive games in the field of video games,” as well as “Entertainment services, namely, participation in video game competitions.” Class 025, which includes clothing items and similar merchandise, such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, pants and hats, is also popular.
If you have already started using the mark for the goods or services you have selected, you can file based on that use. If not, you can file an intent-to-use application, which allows you to protect the mark based on its planned use, provided that you begin using it in commerce within a certain timeframe.
Finally, you don’t need an attorney to file a trademark application. However, it is usually a good idea. In fact, the USPTO recommends that trademark registrants be represented by legal counsel who can walk them through the process and get it right the first time around. At Scarinci Hollenbeck, our intellectual property attorneys routinely register marks, maintain them, and work with clients to ensure they remain protected.
If you have any questions, please contact us
If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Joseph Tringali, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-806-3364.