MGM Resorts International takes legal action against Chinese-based online casino

  • Unnamed site owner is accused of breaking copyright laws and ‘luring gamblers’
  • MGM also claims the online operator is ‘cybersquatting’, or trading off its name

Casino giant, MGM Resorts International is taking legal action against a Chinese-language online casino that it has accused of trademark infringement and cybersquatting.

MGM filed a lawsuit in the Nevada District Court against the unnamed operator of the online site – Apart from sitting on a domain name that is similar to the MGM internet portfolio, the online casino has also been using MGM’s well-known trademarks, including the iconic lion logo.

MGM Resorts International filed its lawsuit at the Nevada's courtroom. Pictured: MGM Grand and the offending website.
MGM Resorts International filed its lawsuit at the Nevada’s courtroom. Pictured: MGM Grand and the offending website.

The lawsuit claims that is breaching copyright laws “for the purpose of impersonating MGM and trading off of the substantial fame, goodwill and consumer recognition”. The filing further claims that is luring gamblers to bet on its illicit website by using the MGM identity.

Fake copyright notice

MGM has pointed out that the online casino even added a false copyright notice to its website, having the audacity to contend that its internet casino was protected by “Copyright MGM Resorts International”.

The lawsuit is demanding injunctive relief against the operator, compensation, damages, and legal fees and costs. MGM also wants ownership of the domain name to be transferred to its business.

Not the first, probably not the last

It’s not the first time that MGM Resorts International, which owns 20 properties worldwide, has had to come out fighting to protect the integrity of its corporate identity and intellectual property.

In 2008, it was awarded an injunction and $2.2 million in damages as a result of online gaming company, Smart Answer using MGM brands such as Mirage, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, and Circus, Circus.

Other big name casino operators periodically find themselves tackling ‘pop up’ online ventures that ‘borrow’ registered trademarks to imply authenticity. One of the most notable examples is from 2015, when the Las Vegas Sands Corp won $2 million in damages and a permanent injunction against 35 Chinese online gambling websites. The sites had been trading with the Las Vegas Sands Corp logo and had infringed intellectual property laws.

Cybersquatting is the practice of buying domain names linked to well-known companies or brands, with the aim of either trading off the name or reselling the domain at a substantial profit.

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