AIM-listed online casino operator 32Red Plc has announced that two further operators of online casino websites have given up infringing domains and relinquished control of them.
This follows 32Red’s avowal that it would “continue taking steps to assert and protect its intellectual property rights” after its recent High Court victory against William Hill Online, which was operating a site called ’32Vegas’.
Now it’s been revealed that the owners of ’32Royal’ have transferred their web address to 32Red unconditionally, and that another gaming operator, Spin32, has changed the name of its business and transferred all domains containing the digits ’32’ to 32Red again without condition.
The strength of 32Red’s intellectual property rights were publicly and unequivocally confirmed in the case against William Hill Online. In a Judgment handed down in January by Mr Justice Henderson, after a six-day trial the previous October, the court upheld 32Red’s claim that 32Vegas, an online casino operated by William Hill Online under a joint venture between William Hill and Playtech, infringed 32Red’s European Community trade marks.
The judge also dismissed William Hill’s claims that the trade marks owned by 32Red (’32Red’ and ’32’) should be invalidated. He concluded that “the 32Red brand was highly distinctive”, and “enjoyed a strong reputation in the online gambling community”. Mr Justice Henderson added: “The goods and services covered by the Vegas signs were identical, and the degree of similarity between the signs and the Community marks was high, including in particular the initial ’32’… the detriment to the distinctive character of the Community marks lay in the risk of a false association with 32Vegas, a brand with an inferior reputation which operated in the same marketplace”.
Ed Ware, CEO of 32Red Plc said: “We are happy to have these two other infringing domains safely under our control. The protection of an online entity’s intellectual property rights are vital to the wellbeing of any internet business, and as an entirely online enterprise, with no physical presence in our markets, this makes our brand, our domain name and our reputation pivotal to the success of the business”.
“We have had the imagination to create a distinctive and appealing brand in 32Red, and have invested millions in advertising it over nearly 10 years. We will continue to take action to protect our property and rights where necessary.”
City of London-based solicitors McDermott, Will & Emery represented 32Red throughout the
action with William Hill Online and continue to act for the Company in the upcoming Damages Inquiry and the appeal against the decision lodged by William Hill Online.
McDermott partner Hiroshi Sheraton added: “An effective strategy for enforcing IP rights is essential in building a strong brand like 32Red, particularly in the online world, which is often seen as a ‘soft target’. Although the decision to take legal action to protect a brand is never one that’s easily taken, particularly against an industry stalwart such as William Hill, the findings of the judge speak for themselves. It is reassuring that others are now taking notice.”