eSports for Influence: An exciting new area of ​​practice that law students need to know about

Bird & Bird Lawyers addresses the innovative industries that will shape the world after COVID

The COVID-19 crisis is another example of how disruption and innovation go hand in hand. As smart companies take advantage of opportunities to adapt and grow, lawyers play a key role in addressing any legal challenges they may face along the way.


• Sally Shorthouse, Life Sciences and Health Care Partner
• Phil Scherel, head of the international media, entertainment and sports group
• Graham Payne, global leader in the International Retail and Consumer Group

Online game

The online gaming industry is booming, according to Phil Scherel, head of the international media, entertainment and sports sector at Bird & Bird. The result is that millions of people spend more time at home playing video games.

But instead of complacency during a crisis, many gambling companies are pushing the boundaries of what can be done in a virtual world environment. Cheryl talks about her work with Epic Games – the creators of one of the world’s most popular games, Fortnite, which are constantly redefining virtual experiences.

In April, for example, more than 12 million people actually attended an interactive concert with rapper Travis Scott on the Fortnite platform. During the summer, Fortnite fanatics watch the film screenings of Christopher Nolan’s Inception and Batman Begins during games.

“Gaming companies are looking for ways to keep their customers in the virtual world longer,” said Scherel, who specializes in intellectual property (IP) and media litigation. Experimenting with virtual concerts and film screenings goes beyond gameplay and brings new licensing challenges to Epic Games with the presence of attorney Bird & Bird.

The gaming industry is not immune to the virus. Disruptions in global supply chains have resulted in unexpected delays in the production and adoption of video game hardware. Meanwhile, social distancing rules have postponed or canceled large professional video game events (also known as eSports). Many of these fiercely competitive tournaments, which usually fill stadiums with tens of thousands of fans, are even online using live streaming technology.

Although eSports is still the “traditional sports dwarf,” “it’s catching up really fast,” explains Scherel. And as the industry continues to develop, new complex issues will arise for lawyers to advise on. This includes fighting physical and technological doping, protecting young professional players who have won millions of prizes, and regulating in-game gambling.

Online retail and delivery industry

While COVID-19 is another blow to already troubled Main Street, it has accelerated the transition to e-commerce, said Graham Payne, global leader for international retail and consumer group Bird & Bird.

Store closings and social distancing measures encourage more and more online shoppers, exacerbating the ongoing battle between online retailers and brick shops. As a result, traditional retailers have increased their existing efforts to build online supply through new delivery services and click options.

Payne also pointed out that the link between traditional supermarkets and e-commerce giants existed long before the pandemic. Morrisons and Amazon’s first grocery delivery services are an example. However, the logistical support of many grocery delivery services provides enough slots to meet growing customer demands and ensure product freshness, explains Payne.

Creating a reliable supply chain is essential for companies in the food industry. Payne recalls advising him on the crisis in the KFC supply chain, which left the fast food chain without chicken in 2018 following a change in food suppliers. While Payne has seen customers review their supply chain relationships “thoroughly” over the past six months, in many cases the pandemic has “really tested but strengthened” trade ties. He added:

“For the most part, these companies see themselves in this together. If you have a 30-40 year relationship that you want to keep into 2021 and beyond, this could be a very aggressive, short-term outlook on 2020. , led by something effective. no party is to blame is very dangerous. “

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