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PokerStars Registers Trademarks in Preparation of US Return

PokerStars LogoReports are starting to circulate today that The rational Group, the parent company of both Full Tilt and PokerStars, has applied to register six new trademarks. Commentators are already linking these new US trademarks to the expected return of the PokerStars brand to the United States regulated markets.

The applications were made last month and brings the number of trademarks that are either registered or pending on the US Federal trademark database to 13. The new trademarks to be registered include PCA, PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, We Are Poker and Zoom Poker. They join existing US trademarks PokerStars, World Championship of Online Poker, WCOOP, Sunday Million, World Cup of Poker, WCP and the generic PokerStars Spade Logo.

This is the first time in the best part of 7 years that the company has attempted to trademark anything in the US, and may be an indication that the style and product currently on offer to the rest of the world isn’t going to be radically overhauled for the New Jersey Market. Considering how well PokerStars is respected by the majority of poker players, this is probably a good thing. A New Jersey licence is expected to be in place inside the next month, meaning PokerStars are poised to return to the US for the first time since April 2011.

Not that the US based player pool is going to be familiar with all of the products and branding that seem to be on their way to the Garden State. The now familiar phrase “We are Poker” wasn’t introduced in PokerStars media until very late 2011, months after the company had left the US market. It has become a central part of the PokerStars ethos, and with the company having a massive monopoly over online poker, seems very apt. With virtually every piece of PokerStars branded media including this phrase, it’s going to be something that US poker fans are going to become very familiar with. PokerStars has a history of being in the right place at the right time with it’s marketing and media, and it’s expected that players will see a lot of PokerStars TV ads and promotion in New Jersey following the announcement of their licence.

The other thing that will be new to the American players is going to be the PokerStars fast fold poker variant, Zoom Poker. A US Patent was issued back in May of this year, giving PokerStars control over the rights to Fast Fold poker in the US. This control has yet to be challenged in US court, and according to a quote from Intellectual Property Expert and lawyer Bill Gantz to, it is probable that a challenge will be made. Gantz stated that

“The amendments which allowed this patent to issue should seem obvious to the entire poker industry, and there should be ample grounds for vigorously challenging this patent…”

Subject to the expected challenge, Zoom Poker is likely to be part of the package offered by PokerStars, but as it would be a first for the NJ regulators, its unlikely be available at launch.

The other notable appearance on the list of trademarks is “The World Cup of Poker.” This annual event was launched in 2004, and consisted of online qualifiers, with finals being held in a live environment. To start with, the finals were held in Barcelona, Spain, but since 2009 they were held as part of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA), which is held at the Atlantis Rsort and Casino in the Bahamas. The event has not been held in 2014, and the application for a trademark may indicate a return of the event, including US players.

While this news may not be a hard indication that PokerStars is has resolved all it’s issues in returning to the US markets, it’s a positive sign. The company is legally protecting some of it’s more recognisable brands, and would likely be doing this regardless of it’s intentions in the US, but the timing of this move is seen by many as an indication that the conversation with the New Jersey Regulators is progressing in a positive manner, and The Rational Group is just finalising all the small issues still outstanding before a big announcement to the Poker World in the next few days.


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