Gibraltar-based online gambling firm PartyGaming could be liable for damages reaching as high as $287 million following a decision this week by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago.
PartyGaming is the firm behind popular online gambling brands PartyCasino.com, PartyPoker.com and PartyBets.com and was taken to court in July of last year by WMS Gaming Incorporated for alleged trademark infringements. But, the virtual gaming giant chose to ignore the original claim, which resulted in a default judgement against it. Judge Blanche Manning of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois awarded WMS $2.67 million in damages but the American firm appealed for greater compensation.
In its petition, WMS argued that PartyGaming had participated in ‘persistent, knowing and wilful infringement’ of its trademarks Jackpot Party and Super Jackpot Party from 2004 to 2006 through ‘approximate and exact reproductions of the marks’.
In its decision, the Appeals Court ruled that ‘the District Court… made a fundamental error of law by failing to distinguish between WMS' right to the defendant’s profits and its right to damages’.
'In the absence of evidence from PartyGaming showing that deductions are warranted, WMS is entitled to the revenues supported by its evidence,' wrote Circuit Judge Diane Wood.
This is latest bad news for the operator after it announced last week that 350 staff based at it Gibraltar headquarters could be made redundant. John Shepherd, Communications Director for PartyGaming, stated that there was a redundancy plan in place with the company currently conducting a 60-day preliminary consultation to see what posts would be at risk.
Shepherd stated that the firm had been forced into its current position by changes to the gaming market and complained of unfair competition from US-active companies.