The casino magnate is claiming that 35 online gambling sites are using the “Sands” trademark to get more customers.
It is well known that Sheldon Adelson disapproves of internet gambling in the US, but the casino magnate has recently started a new battle against the online industry. Except this time, if the allegations are right, he does make a fair point.
The lawyers representing Las Vegas Sands in the federal lawsuit claim that registrants of thirty-five Internet domain names are illegally using the “Jinsha” Chinese characters, which roughly mean “golden sand” and represent the Chinese equivalent of the “Sands” trademark.
Las Vegas Sands Corp. owned casinos in the following locations:
• Las Vegas, Nevada
• Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
• Macao, China
• Marina Bay, Singapore
The plaintiff says the 35 online gambling sites are trying to falsely associate themselves with the famous American casino brand, to lure players to overseas websites. Lawyers believe the web domains are cashing in on the good reputation of the trademark they’re unlawfully using.
According to recent news, all this gave Las Vegas Sands Corporation grounds to sue for trademark infringement, false designation of origin and dilution under the Lanham Act. There are also claims for common law trademark infringement and unfair competition.
“Defendants have set up a network of Chinese language Internet websites designed to drive Internet users to one or more online casinos,” the lawsuit claims. The sites were also accessible by players gambling in the US.
Now the casino developer is hoping to get a temporary, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, as well as damages, attorney fees and costs.
Sands did not manage to track down the owners of the 35 websites, because the domain names are registered using the Whois Privacy Protection Service and their identities are kept confidential. To put it shortly, the companies selling the domain names don’t ask registrants to make their true name, email address or contact information public.
Lawyers also claim that the use of the trademarks “was no accident”. “The website is clearly intended to refer to Plaintiff’s world famous resort hotel, as it shows a skyline view of Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore,” the documentation said.
“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.”
The casino developer complained that this “blatant exploitation” has hurt the company and caused it to lose control over the brand, an “irreparable” damage that “cannot be adequately compensated” by money alone.
Irreparable damage to Sand’s image
But there is another, more subtle issue that worries representatives of Las Vegas Sands. As the company has been lobbying against the legalization of internet casinos under American gambling laws, associating Sands with online casinos – even fake ones – “threatens to dilute and detract from Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s message and its efforts to stop the proliferation of online gambling”.
Lawyers argue that the defendants’ actions have caused “irreparable harm and injury” and will continue to do so until the court approves a temporary, preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting the defendants from using the Sands trademark “or any confusingly similar variations” and from further engaging in “false or misleading advertising”.
Sands is seeking an order that will force domain name registrars to remove or disable the 35 domain names and server information. The company also wants punitive damages “in an amount to be determined at trial” plus attorney fees.