Professional Gamers & Streamers: Protect Your Gamer-Tag
By Justin M. Jacobson, Esq.
Professional gamers and gaming “influencers,” including streamers and content creators may protect their in-game name known as a “gamer-tag” as well as their unique logo design. To achieve this, a gamer wishing to properly protect and monetize their personal “brand” should utilize trademark law. While most professional gamers and streamers are still not securing a registration in their trade name (their gamer-tag) or in their logos, there has been a recent trend of top gaming professionals securing these rights. For example, gaming streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins has also applied for trademark protection in many different classes for both his gamer-tag as well as his unique “Ninja” logo (U.S. Serial Nos. 88/206,559, 88/481,530, 88/206,555, and 88/481,530). Another streamer Benjamin “DrLupo” Lupo received trademark protection for his gamer-tag, “DRLUPO” in a variety of classes as well as for his unique “D” logo (U.S. Registration Nos. 5,970,881 and 5,970,912). Also, another prominent streamer, Timothy “TimTheTatman” Betar has applied for protection in his gamer-tag in several categories, including “books” and “entertainment services” (U.S. Serial No. 88/891,655). Further, streamer Turner “TFUE” Tenney is also attempting to register his gamer-tag “TFUE” for clothing and entertainment services (U.S. Serial No. 88/294,707). In addition, competitive gamer Jonathan “FATAL1TY” Wendel has received protection for his gamer-tag, “FATAL1TY” (U.S. Registration No. 3,149,347). Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag, has also followed suit and has protected his gamer-tag, “NADESHOT” in a variety of classes, including for “dietary and nutritional supplements;” for “video game controllers;” and, for “live performances by e-athletes and competitive gamers.” (U.S. Registration No. 5,540,561).
Generally, prior to attempting to protect a specific name, it is prudent for the gamer to conduct a trademark screening search to determine the availability of their gamer-tag. If the mark is clear, an application can be file with the U.S.P.T.O. in any relevant class(es) of goods. It is also important to be aware that a logo and a gamer-tag are two distinct marks. This means that in order to protect both a gamer’s logo and their gamer-tag; two separate applications must be prepared and filed.
There are a variety of International Classes of goods and services that a gamer or streamer might apply for protection in. Some of these classes might include International Class 041 for “entertainment services, namely, participation in video game competitions.” An influencer might protect their gamer-tag in International Class 009 for various types of computer equipment, such as “computer hardware; computer keyboards; computers; computer monitors; computer mice; mouse pads.” In addition, a professional gamer might protect their name in Class 028 for “gaming mice,” gaming keyboards and “gaming heads.” A gamer-tag or logo might also be registered in International Class 025. This class is for various clothing and other merchandise items, such as t-shirts, hoodies, shorts, bandanas and hats. Another potentially applicable classification for a gaming influencer might be International Class 035. This particular class is for the provision of “endorsement and advertising services,” including “promoting the goods and services of others.” These are just a few select international classes that might be applicable as there are many other trademark classes that an applicant can choose from and that may be applicable to their brand.
A trademark registration in a gamer-tag and logo provides many unique benefits for its owner. One of these is that the gamer has exclusive rights to the name for the selected categories. This means that no other person may use the same name or a confusingly similar one for the same goods or services. Another advantage is that the registration permits the owner to file an infringement claim with many social media platforms to retrieve or block an infringing account. These include utilizing account reporting procedures on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Twitch. A valid registration also enables the owner to contact the United States Customs and Border Patrol to prevent the importation of any infringing or counterfeit goods bearing the protected mark as well as any goods containing marks that are confusingly similar to the registered one. This is beneficial as it provides a remedy to try to prevent the sale of “fake” or other unauthorized goods containing the gamer’s name or logo.
Overall, while the up-front costs may seem pricey, (the costs for a search and for the preparation, filing and prosecution of a trademark application), as the gamer grows their individual “brand,” the benefits that the influencer receives outweigh the money invested. As always, the best advice is to obtain counsel from a competent professional experienced in the industry.
This article is not intended as legal advice, as an attorney specializing in the field should be consulted.
© 2020 The Jacobson Firm, P.C.