Sportsbet has asked a judge for an emergency order blocking Crownbet’s planned rebranding to “Sportingbet” until the lawsuit it filed over its betting rival’s planned use of the mark has been resolved.
In an emergency hearing in Federal Court on Monday, Sportsbet said it would face significant damage and that a high level of confusion would ensue if the court did not enjoin Crownbet from using the “Sportingbet” mark.
Crownbet plans to rebrand itself as Sportingbet by August 26.
Colin Golvan QC, representing Sportsbet, told Justice Mark Moshinky that the planned rebrand was a “classic case” of exploiting the goodwill of Sportsbet. He said the rebrand could cause long-term damage to the position of Sportsbet “which could not be properly compensated”, and pointed to the high betting traffic ahead of AFL grand final in September and the Melbourne cup in November as reasons to grant the temporary injunction.
Sportsbet said if it wins the injunction but loses the trial, it will have ample funds to compensate Crownbet. But if it loses the injunction, and wins at trial, the damages could not be calculated.
Crownbet argued there was no practical possibility of customer confusion.
“If somebody does a generic (internet) search like ‘betting’ or ‘bet’, desiring to find Sportsbet, there is a plethora of results which include ‘sports’ and the word ‘bet’ either as the name of the business or description of what that business does. In these circumstances one expects the consumer to be astute,” Adrian Ryan, SC, barrister for Crownbet said.
“Such a person would be astute to find their way to Sportsbet. We ask, how will it be any different when we are in the market?”
Online bookrunner Crownbet was sued last month by Sportsbet over its attempt to trade mark and operate under the “Sportingbet” name.
In a statement of claims filed June 21, Sportsbet says Crownbet is threatening to violate its “Sportsbet” trade mark by seeking to trademark the “Sportingbet” mark because the marks are substantially similar. It claims 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 planned rebrand of the Matt Tripp-led Crownbet as Sportingbet comes in the wake of its March acquisition of William Hill’s Australian business. Tripp’s father, Alan, used to own Sportingbet, which was purchased by William Hill about 5 years ago.
Tripp told The Australian recently he was excited to have the Sportingbet business back in the family. In May, Crownbet filed an application to trade mark the word “Sportingbet” for its online gambling services and in June applied to ASIC to register the name Sportingbet Pty Ltd.
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 has carried on its betting and wagering business in Australia under the “Sportsbet” mark since 1991 and on its website www.sportsbet.com.au since 2003, according to the statement of claim. It says it has developed a reputation and goodwill in the “Sportsbet” mark in Australia.
It is seeking a temporary and permanent injunction barring Crownbet from using the mark, an order requiring that Crownbet withdraw its trade mark application, as well as damages and costs.
Sportsbet was represented by Colin Golvan QC with Owen Dixon Chambers and solicitors with Corrs Chambers Westgarth. Crownbet was represented by Adrian Ryan with Owen Dixon Chambers and solicitors with Arnold Bloch Liebler.
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Christine Caulfield has been a journalist for 18 years. She was most recently the Co-Managing Editor at US legal news publication Law360. Prior to that she worked as the County Court reporter for The Herald Sun. She is Co-Founder and Editor of Lawyerly.
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