Fortnite Pushing Boundaries in Esports

Posted on Thursday February 28, 2019

Intellectual Property

The online video game, Fortnite, temporarily disabled all other game modes to hold a live concert with EDM artist DJ Marshmello during the 2019 Super Bowl. Fortnite is known for its unusual ideas, and the 10 minute in-game live show was certainly a pioneering next step in the gaming world.

The concert was reportedly viewed by at least 10 million gamers. However, there have been an additional 25 million views (and counting!) on the video later uploaded to YouTube. To give some perspective, the highest-attended real-life concert in world history was Rod Stewart at Copacabana Beach in 1994 with 3.5 million attendees.

DJ Marshmellow tweeted after the show that history had just been made with “the first ever virtual concert”.

Therefore, it is clear that gaming is a fast-paced industry incorporating revolutionary concepts. As a result, this places emphasis on the importance of protecting a brand’s intellectual property (IP) rights. It may, for example, be advantageous to obtain protection in the form of a patent to safeguard innovative ideas and/or particular features.

Patents exist to protect inventions for a duration of 20 years and permit rivals to alternatively attempt to acquire licences for the innovative ideas. Effectively, patents have the potential to be valuable assets and ultimately accord a “monopoly right” over the invention.

UK patents are not granted automatically and instead would need to be by way of application at the Intellectual Property Office. In order to potentially be granted a patent, an applicant must show that the invention has the following elements:

  1. It is new;
  2. Constitutes an inventive step;
  3. Is capable of industrial application; and
  4. Does not fall foul of certain exclusions (such as one that is contrary to public policy or morality).

United States mobile esports company Skillz currently holds the rights to at least 13 esports-associated patents.

Other types of common IP protection in the esports sector include trademarks and copyright. Trademarks can include words or figurative marks which distinguish products or services from those of other companies or individuals. Copyright protection exists to safeguard creative expressions, including original literary or artistic works, sound recordings and paintings.

The International Olympic Committee also recently confirmed that competitive video gaming and esports may constitute a sporting activity – which certainly makes the protection of IP an interesting area to watch (whether it’s virtual or not!).

If you require assistance with protecting your brand’s IP rights in the esports industry, contact the IP Team at Mackrell Turner Garrett.