32Red Casino Wins Trademark DisputeBy: Joe Valentino, Saturday February 12th 2011
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This was a dispute that began almost two years ago. It took on a formal shape when in August 2009 32Red filed a lawsuit against William Hill, claiming that the latter's use of 32Vegas was very similar to 32Red and was thus violating its trademark rights. 32Red also claimed that they were losing income because players were wagering at William Hill owned 32Vegas under a mistaken impression that it was a 32Red brand.
Day before yesterday a London High Court heard the case. The lawyer representing WHO requested the case is heard in private because the information to be revealed was commercially sensitive. However the judge dismissed this argument and stated that the public had a right to know what was happening. 32Red online casino's lawyer informed the court that though the 32 Vegas casino had been rebranded as 21Nova, the 32Vegas name and trademark was still being used to drive traffic that site and WHO was taking advantage. He also argued that the use of adwords on Google and many third party affiliate websites were driving traffic to the 21Nova online casino using 32Vegas. He further claimed that various 32Vegas email addresses were being used and requested that the 32Vegas name should be removed to the extent wherever possible.
The WHO lawyer stated that 32Vegas had rebranded to 21Nova and that should be the end of the matter. He averred that it was impossible for WHO to prevent third parties and affiliates from using and promoting the 32Vegas name. William Hill had a 70,000 strong affiliate network, Affiliates United, and could not police every affiliate. After hearing both parties, the judge ruled in favor of 32Red online casino. He granted an injunction preventing William Hill Online (WHO) from using the 32Vegas trademark anywhere in the EU. The court also ruled that WHO has to publish the judgment on some of its largest websites including its corporate website and that of Affiliates United.
Yesterday the court met again to allow 32Red online casino to seek compensation from William Hill. 32Red has asked the court for repayment of the significant legal costs incurred by it and an inquiry to assess the extent of damages arising from the trademark infringement. 32Red's legal team asked the judge for an immediate decision and William Hill's lawyers asked for it to be delayed. The judge decided that instead of presenting his findings orally he would deliver the judgment in writing in two weeks time. The issue of costs will be then taken up. WHO will have to disclose the global financial performance of 32Vegas between January 1 and July 31 2009 as well as that of other William Hill casino brands that allegedly drew traffic via the 32Vegas website.
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