Las Vegas Sands Corp Files Lawsuit Against 35 Gaming Sites
I can just picture Sheldon Adelson, partaking in his shredded wheat (the single, big brick, not the manageable, spoon-sized pieces) and half grapefruit after going for a gold coin swim in his Scrooge McDuck vault, as he is handed the daily reports for his company, the Las Vegas Sands Corp. Sitting in a monogrammed bathrobe and slippers in a suite that we poors couldn’t afford, his eyes narrow as he reads the top page, which informs him of the latest legal matters with which his brick-and-mortar gaming firm is involved. As he reads further, his hands begin to tremble, then involuntary close, crumpling the paper.
Internet gaming sites, which he has dedicated the final years of his life to destroying, are messing with him again. Those goddamn internet sites.
Well, to be fair, as much as we can’t stand Sheldon Adelson and his fogey ways, he has a legitimate gripe this time.
According to an article published by TheDomains.com, Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District Of Nevada last Friday against the owners of 35 internet-gaming related websites. The sites, which all appear to be Chinese, look like they are blatantly ripping off Sands, something that is not at all uncommon in this industry (I, myself, have had my articles copied by other sites without credit).
The lawsuit alleges that all the sites and their related domain names have been using the Sands name, logo, and Chinese equivalents of the name to make it look like they are affiliated with the global land-based gambling giant. The goal of this false affiliation, of course, is to persuade visitors to click on their links and proceed to patronize the online gambling sites to which they are directed.
The 35 websites are as follows:
One problem with getting to the owners of these sites/domains is that their information is not publicly listed. They apparently used a privacy protection service which is available from domain name registrars at minimal cost. This sort of service does just what it sounds like it would: it hides a domain name registrant’s name, address, and phone number from the public. Anyone can lookup registrant information in a WHOIS directory (try it, it’s fun!), but those who register a domain name using a privacy protection service have this information concealed. To uncover the identity of the domain name owners, the lawsuit states that Sands is requesting:
An order requiring domain name registrars eNom, Inc., Name.com, Inc., GoDaddy.com, Inc., and/or VeriSign, Inc. (the.com domain name registry) to immediately remove or disable the current domain name server information for each of the domain names and place the domain names on hold and lock pending further order of the Court.
The reason for the suit is simple. The 35 sites are trading on the Sands name without Sands’ permission in an effort to profit from it. Says Sands:
The use of Plaintiff’s marks 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 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. A sa result of the Defendants’ blatant exploitation of Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s trademarks without Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s consent, Las Vegas Sands Corp. has lost control over the SANDS Mark
This loss of control over its goodwill and reputation is irreparable and Las Vegas Sands Corp. cannot be adequately compensated by an award of money damages alone.
This is all compounded by Sheldon Adelson’s and his company’s leadership position in the crusade against online gambling, namely, the founding of the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.
On the sites in question, which are all the same, the Sands logo is clearly used, as is an image of Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Hotel, which is owned by the Las Vegas Sands Corp. The sites don’t stop at Sands when it comes to ripping people off, either. Front and center (well, off-center) on the homepage is a picture of wealthy-looking Asian man sitting in gold and burgundy chair, holding some playing cards. Normally this wouldn’t be anything worth noting, but the image is obviously the likeness of Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-Fat, best known for his role as Master Li Mu Bai in the hit 2000 film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It is probably safe to say that he did not give permission for his likeness to be used.
Sands is seeking a “temporary, preliminary, and permanent injunction” prohibiting the sites from using any Sands-related logos, words, or images and from engaging in false advertising in which they use the Sands name to lure visitors to online gaming sites. Sands is seeking compensatory, punitive, consequential, and statutory damages.