Interactive entertainment

We have been at the forefront of developments in all things technology ever since we started and the ever-evolving world of interactive entertainment has been part of that rich history.

As leading legal specialists in technology, intellectual property, media and data, we’re perfectly placed to support creators and gamechangers in the interactive entertainment space.

With one of the largest teams of technology specialists around, it’s no surprise that many of us live and breathe interactive entertainment and immersive technologies. Whether we're building our own gaming PCs, counting down the days to the latest video game release or exploring the metaverse, we embrace all the industry has to offer. This, combined with our top-tier legal expertise, means we’re the first choice for some of the biggest names across the interactive entertainment sector.

Our clients include everyone from small indie developers to multi-national publishers of ‘traditional’ AAA games, as well as communications platforms, social media platforms and newer non-traditional companies exploring the limits of virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence and cloud gaming.

We specialise in all legal fields applicable to the interactive entertainment sector, including intellectual property, licensing, data privacy, commercial collaborations and dispute resolution. Our size and culture encourages cooperation and interdisciplinary working, meaning we bring the best expertise to bear on a particular matter and can quickly pull together diverse teams with the necessary mix of expertise from across the firm.

As well as advising and supporting our established clients in the interactive entertainment sector, we also regularly work at the cutting-edge of related immersive and emerging technologies, including advising on recent developments in metaverse technologies and consumer use of AR/VR devices, the implementation and public launches of leading Generative AI models, and the use of machine learning in the video games sector.

Experience

Commercial & transactional

We advise on all the commercial arrangements needed to develop, launch and exploit interactive entertainment products and services. We complement our significant cross-sector experience in advising on the development, licensing and ownership of IP and related rights from concept to completion, with the ability to advise on the agreements required to bring products and services to consumers, such as terms of use, anti-cheating agreements and EULAs. We also use our experience in the IT and telecommunications sector to advise on the increasingly sophisticated infrastructure used to support online gaming.

  • Advising a number of virtual and augmented reality technology companies on issues such as their user terms and conditions, publisher registration agreements and their return and warranty policies, and on related consumer protection rules in relation to their VR and AR technologies and use of online avatars.
  • Acting for a digital product studio to establish a joint venture to commercially exploit an immersive augmented reality mobile video game based on a popular animation tv/film series. As well as establishing the joint venture, we assisted with the assignment of all IP created under the agreement by the commercial parties for exploitation.
  • Advising a leading provider of virtual reality solutions on the commercialisation of its medical VR software used by surgeons for training purposes. We advised on IP issues, prepared licence terms and led negotiations with key channel partners. 

Data protection & privacy

We provide guidance on compliance with the GDPR including issues pertinent to the sector such as children’s consent, nudge techniques, privacy policies and data transfers. We also have significant expertise in consumer and gambling laws, which are becoming increasingly relevant to the interactive entertainment sector.

  • Advising the leading interactive communications platform for online communities and the video games industry in relation to European data protection and copyright queries.
  • Advising a mobile games developer and publisher in relation to its EEA terms of use for games for smartphone and tablet devices, with a particular focus on the data protection implications of using anti-cheat technology and on the requirement to offer refunds for virtual items if the game or player’s account is closed.
  • Advising a major video games technology manufacturer, developer and publisher in relation to various legal queries and issues, including data protection and compliance with the Age Appropriate Design Code.

Brands & IP litigation

We advise on every stage of a product lifecycle, from obtaining and managing trade mark portfolios, copyright and design protection, to disputes relating to the enforcement of those rights. We have particular expertise in the interactive entertainment sector, advising numerous clients on the acquisition of their IP rights as well as on disputes relating to copyright infringement of in-game works, brand protection of game franchises and video game music rights licensing. Bristows has been at the forefront of patent litigation in the UK and Europe for over 180 years, and has advised on patent disputes relating to console hardware, server architecture, artificial intelligence, networking and other technologies relevant to the sector.

  • Advising a mobile video game developer on a copyright infringement claim brought against it in the Intellectual Property List of the High Court in relation to various aspects of its mobile first-person shooter game, including its graphic works, musical works and gameplay design.
  • Acting for a large online gaming corporation on a range of contentious matters relating to licensing, copyright and broadcasting issues. We defended an infringement case involving novel considerations of how copyright applies to online computer game features such as game play and advised in relation to a claim regarding elements of a roulette game played on betting terminals. We further support the client with IP and regulatory advice as well as management of their European trade mark portfolio.
  • Acting for one of the leading providers of online games and casino services on a number of contract and IP disputes in relation to its branded casino games, particularly in matters of purported copyright infringement and breaches of licence terms. 

Technology disputes

We regularly advise on licensing and sponsorship contract disputes and copyright infringements relating to software development and have acted in leading cases concerning the provision of infringing video game cheat and bot technology. We also advise on distressed IT projects, relating to the development of video game-specific software, as well as on misuse of confidential information and trade secrets for new IP, including both console hardware and game software.

  • Representing Blizzard Entertainment in its successful High Court claim against a software developer for copyright infringement and inducing breach of contract in relation to its creation, promotion and sale of "cheats" and "bots" for users of Blizzard's video games. We obtained a permanent injunction against the defendant, shutting down its cheats/bots operation – the first successful such claim in the UK – and acted for Blizzard in the ensuing account of profits proceedings.
  • Acting for a video games developer in a claim by a publisher concerning the development of a first-person shooter game. The claim related to the quality of the developed software and the extent to which milestone criteria for payment had been achieved. 
  • Advising a major video games technology manufacturer, developer and publisher in relation to various legal queries and issues, including copyright and contract disputes as well as misuse of confidential information.

Competition & regulatory

Bristows’ competition team has acted for companies in the interactive entertainment industry for over 20 years. Examples of our work include:

  • Advising a platform on vertical integration, involving consideration of risk mitigation under abuse of dominance rules.
  • Assisting an IE company with a potential competition authority investigation, resulting in no further action being taken by the authority.
  • Coordinating European advice on distribution, promotion and publishing agreements in compliance with UK and EU rules on anti-competitive agreements.

Bristows’ regulatory team also advise on the regulatory implications of cutting edge technology, such as the use of VR in digital healthcare.

Corporate, tax & employment

We advise on transactions involving video games developers and publishers, including the sale and acquisition of interactive entertainment businesses and game IPs, equity and share capital arrangements, tax and employment matters, together with negotiating supporting branding, IT and services contracts.

  • Advising an interactive gaming software company on its share capital arrangements and the implementation of an employee share scheme, providing guidance on a range of corporate and tax matters. We also provided corporate and commercial advice on a potential equity-linked consulting arrangement.

Insights

Blog

Read our articles, blog posts and other commentary to keep up with the latest legal and regulatory developments relating to interactive entertainment.

Press coverage

Our team are often asked by national and sector-specific media outlets to provide their expert insights on market and regulatory developments:

Key contacts