Judge says Sportsbet case over CrownBet rebrand is ‘strong’
Intellectual Property July 12, 2018 11:39 pm By Cat Fredenburgh | Melbourne

The judge that temporarily barred CrownBet from moving forward with its planned rebrand to Sportingbet said Sportsbet has made a ‘strong’ case that use of the mark by CrownBet is likely to cause confusion among consumers of online betting services.

In a judgment made public Thursday, Justice Mark Moshinsky said Sportsbet had made a “strong prima facie case” that if the planned rebrand went ahead, a large number of bettors would be led misled, placing bets in error or assuming some association between the Sportingbet and Sportsbet brands.

The judge said the context in which many online bets are placed – on mobile devices and in social settings — contributed to the likelihood of confusion.

CrownBet is facing an August 26 deadline to rebrand its CrownBet and William Hill businesses, which it must do under two recent deals. It has until August 26 to stop using the CrownBet mark and until October 22 to stop using the William Hill mark. It planned to combine both business under the Sportingbet mark — which it acquired as part of its March acquisition of William Hill — by the end of August.

The judge agreed with CrownBet that if the temporary injunction was granted and it was successful at trial, it would “probably not be feasible to rebrand a second time” and that it will in effect have lost the chance to use the Sportingbet mark.

“It follows that the grant of an interlocutory injunction may well be tantamount to a grant of final injunctive relief in Sportsbet’s favour…On the basis of the present materials, and for the reasons already indicated, I consider that Sportsbet’s case has a sufficient likelihood of success to justify the grant of interlocutory relief that may well have final effect,” Judge Moshinsky said.

Judge Moshinsky’s order, which restrained CrownBet from offering betting or wagering services using the disputed name, will stay in place pending a ruling in the case.

A Sportsbet spokesperson said the decision showed the court shared its concerns that consumers would be misled by the name switch.

“Sportsbet will continue to take all necessary action to protect its brand and prevent deception in the market, and will see the matter through to a final determination if necessary,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesman for CrownBet said the company was disappointed by the decision.

“We’re obviously disappointed and will examine the decision closely and consider all options available to us,” he said

In a statement of claim filed June 21, Sportsbet said CrownBet was threatening to violate its “Sportsbet” trade mark by seeking to trade mark the substantially similar “Sportingbet” name. It claimed CrownBet’s actions have been undertaken with “flagrant disregard” for its rights as the owner of the “Sportsbet” trade marks.
CrownBet also claims violations under the Australian Consumer Law. The use of the “Sportingbet” mark by CrownBet would mislead the public into believing its services have been sponsored by or have some other connection with Sportsbet, in violation of the ACL, Sportsbet claims.
Sportsbet is represented by Colin Golvan, QC, with Owen Dixon Chambers and solicitors with Corrs Chambers Westgarth. CrownBet is represented by Adrian Ryan, SC, with Owen Dixon Chambers and solicitors with Arnold Bloch Liebler.
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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.