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SPORTBETTING WINS IN FRENCH FOOTBALL BRAND CASE
A French court finding last week could place a significant question mark over a previous case in which the French Tennis Federation sought a ban on betting companies taking Internet wagers at the Roland Garros championhips, the European Gaming and Betting Association comments.
The case involved claims by the football club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) that the use of its trademark and image rights by sports betting websites Bwin and Unibet represented counterfeiting or 'commercial free riding.'
The judgment delivered by the Paris Tribunal of First Instance - the same court that decided the French Tennis Federation case - rejected all of PSG’s demands against Bwin and Unibet.
Sigrid Ligne, the secretary general of EGBA said in a statement this week: “This decision confirms that online sports betting companies are not violating the rights of Paris Saint Germain [football club]. Sports betting is a risk management business that requires specific skills and expertise. It is a complementary activity that goes hand in hand with the activities of sports’ clubs and sports’ events organisers.”
She added that the ruling confirms the activities of football clubs and online sports betting companies are separate and distinct commercial activities from those of sports clubs.
Remarking on the club’s claim of commercial free riding, the judge said that the betting websites were not in commercial competition with PSG, as “they organise bets on sports events that are likely to attract consumers betting on football as well as other sports.”
In the PSG case, the judge ruled that is was impossible to announce events or advertise bets without mentioning the name or brands of the participant clubs. Since the operators’ websites contain highly visible displays of their own marks, advertise a multitude of bets on a range of activities other than football and announce all matches in the same way, regardless of who is playing, the judge found there could be no confusion as to the origin of the service offered by the gaming operators, and rejected PSG’s claim that their trademark had been infringed.
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