The Washington State Federal District Court recently issued a decision stating: “Washington’s definition of ‘gambling’ only reaches ‘staking or risking something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under the person’s control or influence’ and that “[m]ost games not derived from casinos involve some amount of skill and would thus be unlikely to meet the statutory definition.”
Continue Reading Most Non-casino Style Games Unlikely to be Gambling in Washington

In a controversial decision, the Illinois Supreme Court determined that a head-to-head, daily fantasy sports (DFS) contest was predominately skill based and thus not gambling. Despite agreeing with the appellate court’s conclusion that the DFS contest at issue was not gambling, the Court disagreed with much of the appellate court’s reasoning.
Continue Reading Daily Fantasy Sports Case Skillfully Comes to a Head

Microsoft has announced a partnership with Enjin to offer a blockchain based recognition program. Azure Heroes aims to reward individuals for verifiable acts of impact such as coaching, creating demos, building sample code, blogging about Azure or completing certain challenges. Community members that have demonstrated their contributions will be recognized with badges across a number of categories. Azure Heroes is branded as a new and fun way to earn digital collectibles for meaningful impact in the technical community.
Continue Reading Azure Heroes – Microsoft Partners With Enjin to Offer Crypto Collectible Rewards

System art is of increasing importance in patent disputes despite being frequently overlooked or “left for later” in many cases.  A recent decision in the Ironburg Inventions v. Valve Corp. case highlights the importance of system prior art, particularly as IPR success rates have dropped from their high points in 2012-15.
Continue Reading Left Empty Handed: Valve Shut Down on Written Prior Art, Highlighting Importance of System Art

Money laundering is no game. Yet, some games have been used for money laundering. That’s what prompted Valve to announce that it would end the online sales of loot box “keys” for its game Counter-Strike Global Offensive (CS-GO).

As of last week, Valve indicated that CS:GO container keys purchased in-game can no longer leave the purchasing account. Thus, they cannot be sold on the Steam Community Market or traded. Pre-existing CS:GO container keys are unaffected–those keys can still be sold and traded.

These CS-GO keys have historically been traded on the Steam Community Market as well as third party websites. The keys could be bought with money from the in-game shop or from Steam.
Continue Reading Laundering the Loot: Videogame Developer Valve Ends In-game Key Sales Because of Financial Criminal Activity

Earlier this month, a set of gaming industry representatives agreed upon and released a set of unifying esports principles. These representatives include the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), as well as associations from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the UK, and Europe. These “Principles of Esports Engagement” were developed in a collaborative effort and form a set of values applicable in all aspects of the global esports environment.
Continue Reading Gaming Industry Associations Agree on Universal Esports Principles

Last fall, the PTAB modified its procedures for IPR claim construction, eliminating the use of the broadest reasonable interpretation standard. Since the rule change last year, companies challenging the validity of patents at the PTAB are required to use the Phillips plain and ordinary meaning standard.
Continue Reading “Addressing Video Game Claims Under the Phillips Standard at the PTAB”

As real-world celebrities continue to expand the reach of their persona into the digital realm, the potential benefit for advertisers, game developers and esports event promoters is exceedingly high. But with increased opportunity comes increased risk.

A New York Supreme Court recently addressed this risk when it construed the State’s right of publicity statute[1] in a dispute over an NBA 2K18 video game avatar. In Champion v. Take Two Interactive Software, Inc., celebrity basketball entertainer Phillip “Hot Sauce” Champion sued the video game developer, alleging violation of his right to privacy for Take-Two’s use of his name and likeness. The Court ultimately dismissed the lawsuit, but not before it provided a helpful discussion of New York’s publicity statute and its modern application to the esports industry.
Continue Reading Celebrity Entertainer Sues Over Video Game Avatar

*This article was originally published in Law360 on June 8, 2019.

Electronic sports, known in the industry as “esports,” has seen remarkable growth in the last decade. The term “esports” refers to the growing world of competitive, organized video gaming, where professional video gamers play on a variety of different video game platforms and video games (“esports titles”) in heavily attended and publicized competitions and tournaments. These competitions are watched by millions of fans across the globe on TV or online, and by others who attend live esports events. Expert projections have shown that this year will be especially significant, with the sport reaching revenues of $1.1 billion in 2019, or year-on-year growth of +26.7%. With a global audience growing to over 453.8 million worldwide in 2019, it is unsurprising that several companies are trying to break into this emerging market. In fact, reports have projected that sponsorship in esports will generate $456.7 million this year alone.

As new companies and individuals attempt to enter this space, it is important to consider several labor and employment consequences. While many of these recurring problems are not exclusive to esports, the unique characteristics of esports highlight the importance of considering these issues before or when employers get into the esports space.
Continue Reading 10 Labor and Employment Considerations in Esports*

In a closely watched case, a New Hampshire federal court has ruled that the Wire Act is limited to sports betting and set aside the DOJ’s recent opinion to the contrary. However, it limited the scope of its declaratory relief to the parties and deferred a decision on whether to extend the declaratory judgment to non-parties on behalf of the Lottery Commission, but gave the Lottery Commission 14 days to file an appropriate motion and supplement the record with adequate factual and legal support on that point.
Continue Reading Federal Court “Discards” DOJ Interpretation Of Wire Act