Homegrown Punt Club Sues Sportsbet for Infringing on Club’s Intellectual Property Right
Australian Punt Club has filed a legal case against Paddy Power’s Australia-based sport betting business Sportsbet. Allegedly, Paddy Power’s AU subsidiary infringed on the club’s copyright to its business model of hosting clubs formed for syndicating betting money.
Punt Club filed the legal suit after Paddy Power launched Punters Club last month, a beta version of its betting club hosting services, largely similar to the Punt Club business model. Punt Club founder and CEO Jason Neave contends that Sportsbet carried out the malicious deed of inducing Sportsbet employees to become Punt Club members, which enabled them to conduct an unauthorised study on how the Punt Club betting system works.
The Punt Club CEO said that prior to those memberships, several Sportsbet top executives including the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Information Officer, as well as the Head of Sportsbet’s Legal and Regulatory Affairs had all signed up as Punt Club members. Mr. Neave tells of how the Sportsbet head honchos later approached him with a deal to give Sportsbet exclusive rights to the Punt Club website. Although he responded negatively to the deal, Mr. Neave said he proffered a link-sharing arrangement, which he believes would have been beneficial for both companies.
The Punt Club CEO claims that after he rejected the deal, he found several members in his customer data base having Sportsbet-linked emails. Shortly thereafter, Sportsbet launched Punters Club, which obviously is a copycat version of Punt Club. Mr. Neave has good reason to believe that Sportsbet had induced its employees to violate the club’s Terms and Conditions.
Section 12.1 of Punt Club’s Terms and Conditions conveys that Punt Club owns all copyright, intellectual property rights and trademarks appearing in the website. Aside from other related provisions, the section states specifically that members are not permitted to create or make use of a Punt Club membership account mainly for evaluating the club’s service. The prohibition includes the act of subsequently duplicating, as well as incorporating into another product, business, or service, any of the club’s processes and/or features, especially when the results of such deeds could be reasonably assessed as in competition with Punt Club.
In filing the legal complaint against Sportsbet, Mr. Neave is asking the court to hand down a ruling on the matter. That way he could establish the club’s legal right to demand compensation, as well as determine the amount of compensation to demand.
According to local Adelaide news reports, Sportsbets lawyers responded to the Punt Club complaint via a letter, containing argument that the Adelaide-based betting club cannot judiciously claim intellectual property right to the punters club business concept because of the generic and commonplace nature of the business model. Sportsbet lawyers further contend that Punt Club has not explained specifically how the Sportsbet employees breached the terms and conditions governing the use of the website.
About the Punt Club
Mr. Neave founded the Punt Club in 2011 as a free to use online betting facility that members could use in setting up a betting club that has its own set of members. The members of that particular club contribute a fixed amount weekly as their pooled betting money. Every week, the club names one member to place the money as wager on the designated member’s choice of betting product. A member, who made the right choice by winning on the punt, gets another week as the club’s designated punter. A loser on the other hand, is relegated to the end of the queue until his turn to place another bet for the club comes up.
Last October, 2015 Sportsbet launched its Punters Club, also a betting club-hosting service for its existing members. Based on the Punters Club FAQ, the club members likewise pool betting money that members will take turns to place as bets.