On April 25, the Las Vegas-based 1st Technology Inc. filed a lawsuit against seven online gambling concerns alleging patent infringement. The suit is being overseen by Simon Passanate PC, a major American law firm that operates out of St. Louis, Missouri. The firm has an excellent track record of successful litigation in patent infringement cases as well as other types of civil suits. This is the first case in which 1st Technology has used the law firm in it’s actions and it will be interesting to see what this new partnership can bring about. Two of the firm’s attorneys will be handling this case, Anthony G. Simon and Timothy E. Grochocinski.
The defendants in the suit include Digital Gaming Solutions SA, Costa Rica International Sports, Action Poker Gaming Enterprises and SBG Global, all companies based in Costa Rica. There are two Norwegian companies that were also named in the suit: Playsafe Holding AS and eCom Enterprises. The final company named in the lawsuit was Digital Gaming Network, Ltd., which is headquartered in Curacao.
The action, which was filed in a St. Louis federal court, claims that the seven defending companies have been infringing on a patent owned by 1stTechnology called the “Method and System for Interactively Transmitting Information Over A Network Which Requires Reduced Bandwidth”, also referred to in the suit as Patent No. 5,564,001. The suit claims that the seven companies have been using this technology without permission or license from 1st Technology and therefore the company is requesting that they be ordered to refrain from further infringement immediately.
“Our initial goal here, as in all of our cases, is to reach swift and fair settlements that respect our intellectual property rights for companies with U.S. facing operations and utilize our patents,” said Scott Lewis in a written statement. Lewis, the proprietor of 1st Technology went on to also say, “In past instances, if we are unable to reach a swift resolution of the dispute, we move forward quickly and apply all of our resources to enforce all of our U.S. legal rights and avenues to protect our American intellectual property”.
This is not the first time 1st Technology has filed an action against online gambling concerns over patent infringement issues. They filed suit against SportingBet back in 2005 in a Nevada District Court alleging that that company was violating another of their patents. The case was eventually dismissed after licensing agreements were formed between 1st Technology, SportingBet and Paradise Poker. Another case was also settled that same year by licensing agreements created by NDS Group and Orbis Technology.
1st Technology is still in the midst of a huge legal battle with Bodog. When the suit for patent infringement was first filed on Bodog last year, Bodog failed to appear in court to reply to the allegations. This resulted in default judgment against them in August, 2007. The terms of the judgment included the removal of all DNS servers associated with Bodog and it’s owner, Calvin Ayre. They lost the right to the Bodog.com domain name through this action. The judgment also ordered the company to pay $49 million dollars in damages to 1st Technology.
Bodog is back up and open with a new domain name (Bodog Life) and continues to fight the judgment against them. Ayre has a message prominently posted at this new website that Bodog will continue “fighting this dispute”. The message goes on to state, “We are confident that we will win, but until all is settled, I do not want our battle to interrupt your play”. You can also see Ayre’s very humorous response to Scott Lewis of 1st Technology here: Ayre’s challenge to Scott Lewis
One interesting aspect of the current suit with 1st Technology is that several of the companies appeared to be unaware of the suit when it was first reported. No further information has been forthcoming as of this time from either 1st Technology or the seven gambling firms named as defendants. It is unclear how the companies named in the complaint will approach this lawsuit. They could choose to act as Bodog has and ignore the matter or perhaps the action will result in new licensing agreements as in the earlier suit against SportingBet. They could even choose to fight the lawsuit out in court if they believe the law is on their side.
With all the obscure patents governing the various aspects of an online gambling business, it is not surprising that there would be some overlap in patents and the rights associated with them. Often online businesses use new technologies thinking that is in general use, especially given the nature of the internet. Intellectual property rights, copyright and trademarks are ideas that are frequently misunderstood and misrepresented offline. The lines tend to blur even further when entering the online arena. Obviously, 1st Technology is one company that will be zealous in protecting what it feels is its intellectual property.