Sheldon Adelson, the man who hates online poker with every fiber of his body, is going after internet gambling sites yet again. But this time, he may have a point. The Las Vegas Sands Corp., the company of which Adelson is the CEO, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada on Friday against 35 websites for trademark infringement.
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The websites appear to be Chinese gambling portals of some sort and appear to be making use of the Sands trademark as well as Chinese characters that are essentially the equivalent of the Sands trademark. In the lawsuit, Las Vegas Sands alleges that these websites are trying to make prospective online gamblers believe they are affiliated with Sands and, using the Sands name and image, trying to get people to register.
For Adelson, seeing people sign up and play at offshore internet gambling sites is bad enough, but watching them be lured to those sites with his company’s logo has to be gnawing at his brain. On top of that, the sites are targeting customers who could potentially play at his properties in Macau, from where he makes most of his money.
In the lawsuit, the Las Vegas Sands Corp. made its case, stating, “The Sands marks are embodiments of the substantial goodwill and excellent reputation Las Vegas Sands Corp. and its predecessors have developed since 1952 as a premier provider of entertainment and casino services. As a result of the defendants’ blatant exploitation of Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s trademarks without Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s consent, Las Vegas Sands Corp. has lost control over the Sands mark.
It’s not solely its casinos that Sands is concerned with. The company also fears that the message of Adelson’s (pictured) anti-online poker lobbying group, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, has been hurt by the unauthorized use of the Sands trademark. After all, who would take such a group seriously if its name were plastered all over Chinese internet gambling sites?
Las Vegas Sands is seeking a “temporary, preliminary, and permanent injunction” prohibiting the defendants from using the Sands trademarks and “engaging in false or misleading advertising or commercial activities likely to deceive consumers into believing that any defendant is the plaintiff or that any defendant’s services are associated or affiliated with, connected to, or approved by the plaintiff.”
One problem: Sands does not know whom it is suing. The domain names were all registered using privacy protection services that keep the personal information of the registrant out of the global WHOIS directory. Thus, Sands also wants the domain name registrars “to immediately remove or disable the current domain name server information for each of the domain names and place the domain names on hold and lock pending further order of the court.”
Las Vegas Sands is seeking compensatory, punitive, consequential, and/or statutory damages.