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01 June 2017

Gaining the Advantage – Sport, Tech and the Law 2017

On 24 May 2017, the Charles Russell Speechlys sport group hosted their second "Gaining the Advantage – Sport, Tech and the Law" conference which discussed the latest converging issues between sport, technology and law.

Industry specialists and leaders in the legal profession were brought together for three panel discussions:

Fan Engagement

Sean Cottrell, CEO, LawInSport
Shane Monahan, CEO, Limor
Adam Lovatt, In-house counsel, Dugout
Simon Farrant, VP Marketing, Perform Group

Data in football - tracking its progress

Ian Lynam, Partner, Charles Russell Speechlys
Michael D'Auria, Director of Product and Business Development, Second Spectrum
Alan Clarke, CEO, STATSports
Tom Fox, formerly of Aston Villa, Arsenal, NBA and Gatorade

Is eSports ungovernable?

Jaclyn Wilkins, Senior Associate, Charles Russell Speechlys
Jon Walters, Partner, Charles Russell Speechlys
Sean Corbett, Brand Protection Manager, Formula One Management Ltd
Bruce Bale, CEO, Sportdec
Ian Smith, esports Integrity Commissioner, ESIC

Some of the key legal issues emerging from the discussions included:

Monetising data sets within the limits of the law

To the extent that brands want to communicate with their fans by email, SMS or other digital means, if those communications contain any marketing elements, brands will need to consider their compliance with data protection laws and, specifically, the direct marketing rules under the EU's e-Privacy regime. On the whole, this will require them to obtain the consent of their fans; consent which will soon need to be compliant with the requirements of the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (the EU's new privacy laws).

If you have any data protection questions, don't hesitate to contact our data specialist, Jonathan Mcdonald.

IP protection in eSports

eSports leagues, teams and players alike need to be alive to commercial issues and pitfalls surrounding intellectual property protection, in particular in relation to trade mark registrations for their logos and name. IP will be the key asset for teams and players when it comes to monetising their brands and attracting sponsors and endorsement deals, so it is important for them to seek appropriate protection for their IP assets in the relevant jurisdictions. In eSports often the player's in-game name or "gametag" is their most recognisable asset. As uptake of trade mark registration increases, users must also be careful not to infringe the IP rights of others and develop their brands around IP that they do not own.

eSports tournament organisers should be conscious of the risks associated with the infringement of publishers' rights in the games as, particularly for smaller tournaments, they are unlikely to have sought formal permission. These tournaments are also likely to be streamed on Twitch without the publishers' permission which will also infringe the basic IP rights in the game. Generally, publishers tend not to take action against the organisers of these smaller tournaments on the basis that they generate good publicity for the game, but eSports tournament organisers should be mindful of the underlying rights of the games and pay attention to the use rights granted by the publishers.

If you have any IP questions, don't hesitate to contact IP specialist Christina Fleming, or for eSports queries more broadly, please contact Jaclyn Wilkins.