Online casino company wins £150,000 !
Posted: 18th April 2013
An online gambling company has won £150,000 damages after a rival website infringed its European Community (EC) and UK trade marks. In calculating the award, the High Court made a broad brush assessment of what the infringer would probably have agreed to pay to the proprietor of the trade marks in respect of royalties and licence fees following a hypothetical negotiation.
32Red Plc. has operated a substantial online casino business, principally in the UK market, since 2002 and is the registered proprietor of the EC trade marks ‘32Red’ and a device consisting of a stylisation of ‘32Red’ in a roulette ball. It also owns a UK trade mark in respect of the number ’32’. In previous proceedings, the operators of a rival online gambling site had been found to have infringed all three of those trade marks by employing the trading style ‘32Vegas’ over a seven-month period.
32Red Plc. had sought up to £5 million in damages for infringement, claiming that its award should be calculated in an amount equal to 30% of the rival website’s net gaming revenue during the seven-month period and six months thereafter. The company submitted that the award should be based on the principle that a person who has wrongfully used another’s property should be held liable to pay a reasonable sum for such use.
The court ruled that such a substantial award would be ‘out of all proportion’ to any loss suffered by 32Red Plc. due to the infringement. Fixing the award at £150,000, the court found that that was the sum that would probably have been agreed between the parties by way of royalties or licence fees had permission been sought to use the ‘32Vegas’ logo. The court noted that the assessment of damages in such cases sometimes involved ‘the exercise of a sound imagination and the practice of the broad axe’.