Sunday May 27, 2012 : LEGAL MOVES LEAVE A BAD TASTE AT G2E EXPO
Disruption as LT Game and Shufflemaster butt heads
The American Gaming Association – organisers of the otherwise highly successful G2E Asia conference and expo in Macau this week, are unlikely to be impressed by the distasteful legal exchanges on the exhibition floor that have left a bad taste for many.
So much so, that it has been suggested that the incidents could have far-reaching implications including shifting the next edition of G2E to a friendlier environment like Singapore.
The patent issue between US-based Shufflemaster and Macau company LT Games escalated to unacceptable levels when LT Games had local government officials visit the Shufflemaster booth at G2E, ordering the Americans to cover up technology at the heart of the patent debate.
The Americans had little option to obey, but obtained a court order of their own which enabled them to uncover the disputed technology on their live dealer baccarat product later in the day.
In its report on the incident, World Gaming Mag notes that the dispute between the companies has been raging for almost a year, with LT Game effectively claiming a monopoly on multi-game terminal live dealer baccarat, and a slew of court actions and counter actions, injunctions and general bad blood with Shufflemaster and other equipment companies.
This week that led to several companies being required by LT Game to cover up parts of their exhibits to the discomfiture of the AGA and its show contractor, Reed Exhibitions, who were inevitably drawn into the dispute.
AGA chief exec Frank Fahrenkopf was reportedly not at all happy about the disruption, and exhibition staff subsequently erected partitions to block LT Game’s booth from view, also threatening to cut off the company's electricity supply unless the suppression of Shufflemaster was halted.
Remarkably, this tit-for-tat was regarded as unfair by LT Game, according to the World Gaming Mag report.
Shufflemaster continues to assert that no court in Macau has found against them on patent infringement, whilst AGA and Reed have commented that G2E Asia ‘should not and does not play any role in such conflicts.'
World Gaming claims that the AGA intends to pursue the interference of government officials with the appropriate government authority, but the most telling observations came from Fahrenkopf, who apparently told local media reporters directly that Singapore could be an option for the next G2E Asia should there be any further attempts at legalised disruption.
Sadly, the confrontation could continue: The Macau Gaming Equipment Manufacturers Association has issued a statement that appears to laud the LT Game injunctions, characterising these as a "milestone event" and “the first successful case in protecting the copyright” of one of its member’s intellectual property.