Aristocrat docs still ‘floating around’ rival’s office, court told
Intellectual Property May 30, 2018 2:55 pm By Miklos Bolza | Sydney

Gaming giant Aristocrat Technologies told a court Wednesday that confidential material used by a designer to steal its poker machine idea may yet find its way into the launch version of its rival’s machine, despite assurances to the contrary.

A barrister for Aristocrat, J M Hennessy, told the Federal Court that Ainsworth Game Technology had yet to investigate and quarantine a “controversial” employee, Sujay Prabhu, who is suspected of taking information on Aristocrat’s slot machine over to its competitor.

“It would seem our confidential information and our copyright is at large somewhere in the respondent’s corporation,” he told Justice David Yates. “It’s still there. It’s still floating around.”

Ainsworth’s barrister Chris Burgess, denied the claim, saying a “reasonable search” had failed to uncover any documents allegedly copied or transferred from Aristocrat.

Aristocrat has accused Ainsworth of copyright infringement, breaching confidential information, and contravening the Australian Consumer Law.

In a case management hearing last week, the court heard Prabhu, who worked for Ainsworth, got a job with Aristocrat but was terminated three week’s later and returned to his role at Ainsworth.

Aristocrat claims Prabhu took confidential information on its Lightning Links slot machine during his three-week employment and used the material in the development of Ainsworth’s competing Jackpot Strike.

Ainsworth began promoting its Jackpot Strike slot machine earlier this year, giving demonstrations at three separate expos. It has also completed the official launch of the product but has yet to ship out any machines.

In two voluntary undertakings, Ainsworth promised Aristocrat that the launch version of Jackpot Strike would be different from those previously demonstrated, and that Prabhu would not work on the final product.

“Those undertakings take the sting out of any commercial concerns Aristocrat may have,” Burgess said Wednesday.

The parties are also battling over discovery in the case, with Aristocrat pushing back on Ainsworth’s request for access to documents for both Prabhu and its general counsel David Greenslade.

In court Wednesday, Judge Yates referred to the dispute as “World War Three”.

Aristocrat has granted access to 97% of the requested documents, the court heard, but Ainsworth claims that without the withheld remainder the company cannot file instructions or give evidence.

The additional documents are needed so that Nigel Carson — a computer forensic expert from KordaMentha, retained by Ainsworth — can complete his evidence, Burgess said.

Judge Yates set a date of June 12 for an interlocutory hearing over the documents.

Spruson & Ferguson Lawyers is representing Ainsworth. Gilbert + Tobin is representing Aristocrat.

Hennessy is from Tenth Floor Chambers, while Burgess is from Nigel Bowen Chambers.

The case is Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Limited ACN 001 660 715 v Ainsworth Game Technology Limited ACN 068 516 665.

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Miklos Bolza

Miklos Bolza has been a journalist for three years. He has written for a variety of publications, including NZ Lawyer, HRD Australia, and Australian Broker. He is currently the Sydney court reporter for Lawyerly.