CrownBet was ‘controlling mind’ behind Betstar cybersquatting: WIPO
Intellectual Property June 29, 2018 9:58 pm By Cat Fredenburgh | Melbourne

The World Intellectual Property Organisation has found bookmaker CrownBet was the “controlling mind” behind the cybersquatting of four domains that allegedly violated rival Betstar’s trade marks.

Betstar won a ruling from a WIPO administrative panel June 21 ordering the transfer of ownership of four domains that Betstar claims infringe its “Betstar” trade marks –  starbet.com.au, starbets.com.au, starsbet.com.au and starsbets.com.au. The panel found the domains were acquired with the intention of selling or renting them at an excessive price, blocking Betstar from obtaining the domains, and disrupting Betstar’s business.

Betstar owns an Australian registered business name for the word “Starbet”.

Although it was not named in the matter, the panel found that CrownBet was behind the company that registered the domains and that the evidence the domains had been registered in bad faith was “overwhelming”.

“The trademark BETSTAR is so widely known in Australia for online wagering that it is inconceivable that the Respondent might have registered the Disputed Domain Names without knowing of them. Registration in these circumstances has been held to amount to bad faith registration…This finding is supported by the Complainant’s contention, accepted by this Panel, that ‘the controlling minds of the first Respondent, Bloomdale, are the controlling minds of CrownBet … a fierce competitor of the Complainant…[and]…are clearly aware of the Complainant, and of the Complainant’s BETSTAR brand, as they interact with the Complainant on a regular basis’.”

The panel was provided evidence of the connection between CrownBet and the respondent, Bloomdale Proprietary Limited, including that the companies shared a registered address, directors, company secretary and shareholders.

CrownBet did not respond to a request seeking comment for this story.

Betstar  filed the complaint with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center in April, alleging the domains are confusingly similar to its “Betstar” trademarks because they either include the mark entirely or amount to “typosquatting”, and that the domains were registered “in a bad faith attempt to confuse customers”.

Three of the domain names were created and one was transferred during a three month period, between November 2017 and January 2018.

The respondent did not submit a response to the WIPO proceedings, however it did send an email to Betstar assuring it that it had no intention of using the domains and would sell them to Betstar for $7,000.

Betstar is run by Ladbrokes Digital Australia, a subsidiary of global gambling giant GVC Holdings.

CrownBet was recently sold by Crown Resorts to Canadian-owned The Stars Group for $150 million.

Ladbrokes is represented by King & Wood Mallesons.

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Cat Fredenburgh

Cat Fredenburgh has been covering legal news for 12 years. She was previously Editor-in-Chief at US legal news publication Law360. She is the Co-Founder of Lawyerly.