Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought traditional sports around the world to a standstill. A void has emerged in which the interest of the world has intensified in E-sports. In this paper, the author has attempted to explain the connection between Intellectual Property Rights and E-sports by explaining different intellectual property rights and how it can protect the rights of the owners of video games. As per disclosed figures, 42 million USD worth of deals in the E-sports world were signed in April 2020 alone, irrespective of whether the world is reeling under the inflammatory effects of global lockdown. Like traditional sports to have taken a hit, majorly due to the ban of social gatherings, mobile gaming, remote working that has continued to saddle the industry.

Moreover, the International Olympic Committee is tormented by it and is debating over considering E-sports in equal footsteps as traditional sports in 2024. Therefore, in the times of expansion of the industry and the rise of legal protection it invokes, the field of intellectual property becomes extensively active in the industry. The paper focuses on the issues faced by the E-sports sector while explaining the current legal protection provided to the interested parties of video games. Chapter 2 of the article will discuss the present scenario and history of E-sports in India, while Chapter 3 will deal with the connections between E-sports and Intellectual Property. Chapter 4 will discuss the protection available to video game owners/publishers in India. Chapter 5 will discuss the lacunas and issues in the Indian IPR regime regarding E-sports. Chapter 6 will address the judicial background and precedents, and lastly, Chapter 7 will provide a conclusion & recommendations.

Keywords: Intellectual Property, E-sports, Video Games, Copyright, Trademark

Introduction

The evolution of technology and the development of computers & smartphones has led to the inception of specific prominent industries that would have otherwise been unexpected. Out of those industries, the video game industry is on the upsurge. The industry has been developing exponentially since the first commercially successful game, i.e., Pong by Atari in 1972. E-sport is an area that draws a lot of attention with a high number of spectators and has a high monetary value of the E-sports market. According to Statista, the total number of E-sports viewers has increased, from 435.9 million viewers in 2020 to 474 million in 2021iii. With cheaper smartphones, faster internet facilities, mobile games have become quite popular amongst the younger generation. Consequently, the Indian gaming industry accounted for revenues up to 44 billion to 62 billion to 90 billion in 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively.

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