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A great first visit by Adrian to #gamescom2019 Cologne, Germany as part of the joint mission by Enterprise Singapore and Singapore Tourism Board. Happy as the only Singapore law firm attending to help represent the #Singapore #gaming and #esports ecosystem in this joint internationalisation effort, as well as see how the world’s biggest gaming event works before it comes to Singapore in October 2020 at the inaugural gamescom asia #gamescomAsia #gaminglawyers #esportslawyers
Am looking forward to being part of that, especially the business conference and helping SG indies. #SGgamedev #SGGames
Was wonderful meeting fellow Singapore companies in the sector, as well as reconnecting with both old friends and also finally meeting in person luminaries in the video game law sector at the VGBA European summit at #Devcom.
Do reach out if you have questions or would like to work together!
Press coverage of the events, mission and Gamescom Asia 2020 :
1. Straits Times via Enterprise Singapore : "Local game developers go global".
2. Channel News Asia : https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singapore-companies-looking-to-capitalise-on-region-s-fast-11885172
3. Gamescom Asis 2020 via GameAxis : "https://www.gameaxis.com/news/gamescom-asia-2020-announced-for-singapore-is-here-to-stay/"
4. Video Games Bar Association European Summit 2019.
Adrian was asked by online portal Asiaone for his views on microtransactions, free-to-play games in Asia, and whether MTX fueled addiction, following the recent WHO news on gaming disorder. As part of the team that built a PC online and mobile gaming business across 15 Asia territories using Electronic Arts (EA) intellectual property in a F2P/MTX/live services model for Asia markets as the "thin edge of the wedge" for console- and AAA-focused Western companies, he was happy to weigh in.
“On the one hand, you do have that addiction worry. On the other hand, as a dev seeking sticky and engaged users who will hopefully be invested enough to want to spend on items or a season pass, you have some motivation to want to include a ‘compulsion loop’, right?” said the veteran lawyer.
While Kwong is agnostic about gaming-addiction-as-a-disease, he does care about addiction in general, especially for the young. Ultimately, he’s a realist — at the end of the day, he doesn’t think these aspects of games can really be banned. "I don’t think monetisation through free-to-play and microtransactions are inherently necessarily bad, and the reality is it did result in big and long-lasting changes to how games are made, and the business of games,” Kwong explained.
Read more in the article - long read - here.
Consigclear LLC named for innovation in the Singapore legal industry - State of Legal Innovation Report Asia-Pacific
Pleasantly surprised that Consigclear LLC was named not once, but twice in the Singapore section of the inaugural edition of the State of Legal Innovation in the Asia Pacific (SOLIA), as presented at Stanford Law School’s CodeX Future Law Conference this April.
Pleased at mentions both for ‘innovation in legal service delivery’ as well as for being the pioneer Singapore firm formally approved for operation from co-working spaces (and I know that several others have since been approved, including, satisfyingly, some firms who had reached out to me for tips and precedents after this was first announced). Thank you to the editorial team for the shout out, and many others for the help and guidance along the journey. #legalinnovation #singapore #SOLIA #FLIPbySAL Singapore Management University #SMUSOL
You can get the 100 page report at http://www.flip.org.sg
Just off the press! Contributed two chapters (one shared) to the 2018 updated version of Halsbury's Laws of Singapore volume on e-commerce. One chapter was on domain names, and the other (shared with Wendy Low) on ‘digital rights’, which digs into among other things copyright and other intellectual property issues in a digital context, including performance, communication, databases, copying, recording, protection measures, and network service providers.
For the non-lawyers: Halsbury's is an encyclopedia "designed to be the first point of reference for the legal practitioner".
"(W)ritten specifically for the legal profession in Singapore by a panel of distinguished local practitioners and academics. Halsbury’s Laws of Singapore provides a succinct narrative statement of core areas of law and practice.", says LexisNexis, the publisher.
A big thank you to Wendy, and a shout out to the LexisNexis team Sophia and my co-writers Wendy, Nathanael Lim, Jack Ow, Seow Wan Li, and of course lead editor, Bryan Tan. A final nod of appreciation to the authors of the first version from 2008 on whose shoulders we stood in updating : Bryan, Koh Chia Ling and (for my chapters) Siew Kum Hong.
ps. I realise I had previously contributed to another e-commerce law volume (third pic) which in its day actually hit the MPH bookstore Singapore best-seller’s list.
Are you looking to start an esports team? In this final article of a two part series on esports and law for Asia Law Network by video games and entertainment lawyer, Adrian Kwong, we look at things from the perspective of someone on the business side, such as a team owner or manager:
In the first article, I touched on various things an esports player should look out for when reviewing a player contract. These included being clear as to contract obligations and expectations, player employment status, compensation, behaviour, the ownership of intellectual property, and rights of termination.
This second article looks at five legal areas for a team to bear in mind.
Overall, as you draft your team contracts, do consider whether your terms are not just (a) clear enough to legally rely on, but also (b) fair, in that they are in line with “market practice” or “industry standards” (whatever those might be in the still-evolving industry). After all, you don’t want your contract being described as an “embarrassing slavery of a contract” or “utterly vile and atrocious”?
You don’t want players tempted to break match-fixing rules for sums as small as USD 900, citing poor team compensation, as was seen in one SE Asian case.
And of course, not having valid contracts, not paying players (and reporting that you have done both) could definitely be a team issue; a team in North America was actually banned in 2016 for this.
2. Managing a team
When it comes to running a team, the actions of individual players may get you and the team in legal trouble. For example, bribery, cheating, fraud, or drug use could lead to corporate and criminal liability.
3. Intangible property management
As you grow your team, are you also building up a reputation and your own brand? Do you make money off merchandising or licencing them?
Don’t risk losing control of your intangible assets or value. Consider making sure that your team name, logos, and other potentially valuable intellectual property required are legally cleared for use and protected, including by applying for appropriate registration. Do also consider providing that your players, managers and employees have appropriate written assignments of IP to the team. Lastly, be ready to police the serious misuse of your brand, or theft of company property or information.
4. Partner revenue deals
As the esports industry grows, ever-more revenue-generation options are opening up for your team’s business. We see the sometimes-headline-grabbing prize winnings (as may be shared with your players), but teams today are definitely also earning off sponsorship and advertising deals, merchandising, live event and venue ticket sales, publisher partnerships, and last but not least, broadcast and media rights licencing.
Given the relatively new and still fragmented (multiple games, developers, and channels) state of the market, we understand that there is still relatively little industry consistency on business deal terms or structures.
As such, do not assume that the first contract you see is the “only way this is done”, and don’t be afraid to negotiate the contract if you feel something doesn’t work for you and your business (and have a lawyer help redraft the language to what you think is more accurate or reasonable).
5. Governance and regulation
Last, on a very high level, what rules regulate your team’s eco-system?
As we know, the industry is still developing. In particular, there is no universal alignment of rules and league regulations. Instead these are heavily influenced by the individual game developers for their own leagues.
Remember, as the developer and owner of the game and the intellectual property, developers can change their own rules pretty much any time they want – including who can take part in any given tournament that they operate. As such, do read the specific tournament and developer rules and keep up-to-date on anything that could have a material impact on your team (and make sure the players know the ones that can get them disqualified!).
Having said all that, with esports recently making it as a medal sport into the 2022 Asian Games, and 2019 South-East Asian games, likely using multiple games (eg 2-2-2 for console, PC and mobile) across multiple developers/ecosystems, it will be interesting to see if there is greater alignment of rules and governance (eg ethics, cheating, and adjudication). We are certainly keeping an eye open for anything coming from Singapore’s new national esports association, the Singapore ESports Association, as well as any moves from the Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) as the sole competent authority in Asia recognized by the Olympic Council of Asia.
Esports is a topical and exciting area right now, and attention can only grow with its recognition as a medal sport for the Asian and SEA Games. With that growth comes many possibilities for increased business. As with any relatively undeveloped area, though, one can also encounter the potential for legal uncertainty or even disputes. Hopefully, some awareness of the legal risks – and a little legal counsel – can perhaps help you prevent and manage issues and focus on maximising your esports business.
Do contact us if you have any questions or comments.
 https://cybersport.com/post/indian-asian-games-terrible-esports-contract and https://twitter.com/OfficialBleh/status/1004430804913541120
 League of Legends (LoL) World Championship final in Beijing, 60 million watched the final via live stream: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/brunch/game-on-esports-levels-up
Sharing an interview that Adrian gave to Red Hare Games Studios for their gaming blog, accessible here. We covered video games, lawyering, views on the games industry and Singapore scene, and more!
"When we think of lawyers, we often think of courtroom dramas, back-door shady deals and greasy palms. It is not often we associate lawyers and gamers in the same equation. But many events in 2018 has brought the legal implications of games and game design to the light of the mass media. So it is only appropriate for the interview that ends the year to touch on such matters. Take a peek behind the curtain with Adrian Kwong from Consigclear as he talks about his experience being a lawyer in the game industry (minus the spiky hair and screams of “Objection!”)."
Thanks, Red Hare, for the feature!
Tech In Asia : "Grab may have cause to sue Go-Jek over map copying, say lawyers", quoting Consigclear
Consigclear lawyer Adrian quoted on possible legal angle in this Tech in Asia article on the similarities in maps of Go-Jek Singapore to those of Grab, including what looked like specific data points created by and for Grab such as ‘GrabLanes’ and building pick-ups :
"Based on the similarities flagged in the [Mothership] article, one must wonder how Go-Jek came to include all those specific data points in their app. The onus is now on Go-Jek to explain this, or risk facing a possible copyright infringement lawsuit."
“Numerous ‘fingerprints’ such as phantom buildings, deliberate naming conventions, and building shapes, as well as various errors were referred to as suggestive of Virtual Map’s widespread copying of SLA’s material,” Kwong explains”, in reference to [a slew of street directory map infringement actions taken some years back.]
Article is subscriber content, though we understand the first click will work.
For more context, and details/images, see original Mothership article here : https://mothership.sg/2018/12/go-jek-app-data-grab/
Grab mapping effort story : https://www.grab.com/sg/blog/have-you-spotted-the-little-green-dots/
Reading Time: 4 minutes
So, you are considering upping your game in esports and joining a team. Short of having your own lawyer, what are some of the top five things for you to consider from a legal perspective? In this first of a two part series for Asia Law Network, video games and entertainment lawyer Adrian Kwong shares his views of some things a player might want to note before signing a contract.
I’ll be direct. Your first priority is to read your contract before you sign anything. Make sure you understand what it says, including what you are agreeing to do (and just as important, not do), for how long, and what you get in return.
Do not sign anything that you don’t properly understand (for example, a contract in a language you aren’t confident in), that you feel that you are being rushed into signing (“if you don’t sign it now you will lose the deal”) or where you feel that you will not be able to live up to the terms or where they seem excessive (“if you leave, you will not be allowed to play in any other team for 5 years and must pay a buyout fee of $500,000”).
Once you put your mark on the dotted line, the contract would usually become legally binding, and walking away could result in you being accused of breaching the contract and liable to being taken to court, with all the cost and trouble that could bring.
So what are some key contract areas to look out for?
Following on from our April post on participating in the "Legal Issues in Legal Tech" panel at TechLaw.Fest 2018, I am very excited to share our little contribution to legal innovation and legal practice as part of the journey with the Future Law Innovation Programme, Singapore #FLIPbySAL. As far as we are aware, Consigclear LLC is the first ever Singapore law firm given a formal regulatory approval to operate out of a co-working space. Not a distinct office, or even a dedicated desk, but from any part of the space, the same way more and more clients are working out of these co-working spaces themselves. That's pretty new ground, we think!
The law firm is still bound by professional obligations, especially around preserving confidentiality., but this sort of approval does give many more legal practitioners another option in structuring the way they organise their business and more efficiently deliver client services moving forward. I am appreciative of the support received from Singapore Academy of Law, FLIP, and others, as well as Penny Wu from Lexlink, and that the regulators were open to considering #innovation and something different.
Do ping me if you would like to discuss how this was done, or if you have ideas or feedback on making this work better for others.
You can also read (or watch) more about this effort and my time as a pioneer in FLIP here :
A great few days 5-6 April 2018 at the inaugural TechLaw.Fest #TLF18 organised by the Singapore Academy of Law, ending with speaking on the panel "Legal Issues in Legal Tech". Joined by the dynamic fellow panelists from a law firm's tech arm, an MNC, two legal tech startups, and the excellent and organised moderator (from the Government), it was a ride that went into a wide-ranging discussion of Section 33 of the Legal Profession Act and what it means to be regulated as a lawyer, the distinction between legal advice and business advice, liability for legal information services and templates, lawyers' MS Word and typewriters, and finally how lawyers can adapt to change while bearing in mind their professional obligations, including the possibilities of practicing law differently.
Till next time!