Betting giants raise the stakes in legal battle over their brand names

Betting giants raise the stakes in legal battle over their brand names - 24th October 2018


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Sportsbet and rival BetEasy are facing off in court over naming rights.CREDIT: JOE ARMAO

By Nick Toscano

A legal war over naming rights between two of Australia’s biggest online sports-betting companies has taken a turn, as BetEasy launches an application to terminate the brand name of its main rival, Sportsbet.

The retaliatory legal action – launched in the lead-up to the Melbourne Cup Carnival, the busiest wagering period of the year – comes after Sportsbet successfully obtained a temporary ruling quashing CrownBet’s plans to rebadge as “Sportingbet” in the wake of its split from billionaire James Packer’s Crown Resorts.

In June, Sportsbet argued the name “Sportingbet” was too similar to Sportsbet, and likely to “mislead or deceive” customers. Against a tight deadline, the temporary orders forced CrownBet to scrap its intended rebrand and relaunch the business as BetEasy instead.

In a new cross-claim, filed in the Federal Court, BetEasy is arguing that if the court ultimately sides with Sportsbet’s position that the two names are “deceptively similar”, it should also cancel the “Sportsbet” trade mark, because, at the time the trade mark was registered, there were multiple other betting providers including Sportingbet and TAB Sportsbet already in existence in Australia.

“Various sports betting service providers other than Sportsbet have operated in the Australian market using trade marks comprising the words ‘sport’ and ‘bet’, or derivations of those words to seek to distinguish their services,” court documents claim.

If the names are found to be too similar, according to BetEasy, the Sportsbet trademark should never have been allowed to have been registered.

“The registration of each of the Sportsbet trade marks is liable to be cancelled,” it said.

After casino operator Crown Resorts sold its 62 per cent stake in CrownBet to the Toronto-listed gambling giant The Stars Group for $150 million in February, CrownBet’s chief executive, Matt Tripp, had been preparing to rebrand as “Sportingbet” — the name of a betting company run by Mr Tripp’s father, Alan Tripp, which was later bought by British wagering company William Hill in 2014.

But Sportsbet — the Australian arm of international gambling giant Paddy Power Betfair — launched a Federal Court application seeking emergency orders stopping CrownBet from the rebrand.

In response to BetEasy’s cross-claim, Sportsbet said it admitted that “certain sports wagering service providers have in the past operated in the Australian market using trade marks incorporating the words ‘sport’ and ‘bet’ or derivations thereof”, but otherwise rejected BetEasy’s arguments. It denied that the Sportsbet trademark was “liable to be cancelled”.

(The Sydney Morning Herald)