A few weeks ago MGM Resorts International addressed the federal court in Las Vegas with a lawsuit against a number of domain names and their owners for violating MGM's trademark copyrights. The company claimed that a number of people and entities have been using names of MGM properties for their own benefit and asked the court to take action against the violators.
The lawsuit claimed that a number of websites including MGM's trademark names and words like 'poker' and 'online poker' were registered by different people and entities between the years 2002 and 2005. The domain names in question were ariapoker.com, bellagioonlinepoker.com, circuscircuspoker.com, luxorpoker.com, excaliburpoker.com, mandalaybayonlinepoker.com and mgmpoker.com.
As a means of defending its property MGM Resorts International asked the court to apply a temporary restraining order against the defendants and prevent them from using the websites until the case is solved. However, according to VegasInc.com report, at least one of the people owning a domain name in the MGM's lawsuit list stood up for himself claiming that he did not violate any laws and that he has every right to use the domain for his own benefit.
Adam Majewski of McKinney, Texas, who owns the website excaliburpoker.com filed a response to MGM's lawsuit explaining that his business has nothing to do with the MGM's Excalibur Hotel Casino trademark. “Excalibur is not a distinctive mark,” his court filing said. “It was the sword of kings in the Arthur legends. Thousands of businesses use this name – Excalibur Bowling, Excalibur Taxi and even Excalibur Condoms.”
Majewski registered ExcaliburPoker.com domain back in 2005 and agrees to being involved with internet poker, marketing and social media. However, Majewski explains that he has no intentions of exploiting the Excalibur trademark used by MGM Resorts International. The defendant owns a number of other poker-related websites such as DallasFreePoker.com and BostonFreePoker.com which are aimed at poker players willing to play poker in their hometown for prizes offered by local advertisers instead of cash.
“I specifically left off Las Vegas, Reno and Henderson as I concluded that individuals that could already gamble for real money would not want to play for prizes valued at a few dollars,” Majewski said in his response. He also underlined the fact that MGM made no attempt to contact him prior to filing this action and that the suit was filed to impose substantial burdens on him to defend his private property.
“Recent changes in Nevada law have opened up the prospect for Internet gambling,” Majewski said. “Late to the feeding frenzy, MGM wants to leverage the well-known names of its hotels in Las Vegas.”
The lawsuit against four people and two entities who according to MGM have violated company copyrights claims that the defendants were “trying to capitalize on the billions of dollars MGM spent advertising and promotions for its properties over the years.”
Despite Majewski's official objection, U.S. District Judge Philip Pro granted the company's request to issue a preliminary injunction against the six defendants. The court's decision has prevented site owners from transferring the website names to a new domain name registrar or transferring their registrations to other people.
“The issuance of a preliminary injunction is in the public interest because it would protect consumers against deception and confusion arising from domain names containing plaintiff’s trademarks, and from the use of plaintiff’s trademarks, by persons other than plaintiff,” the order says.
The judge also explained that Majewski’s dismissal motion will be considered once it’s fully briefed.