Saturday, June 12, 2010 | 2:05 a.m.
A new twist emerged Friday in the dispute between Harrah’s Entertainment Inc.’s World Series of Poker and online gambling company Everest Poker, with Everest filing a trademark infringement lawsuit against Harrah’s.
The legal dispute started in April when Everest’s parent company, Ultra Internet Media S.A., sued Harrah’s in federal court in Las Vegas, claiming Harrah’s breached a sponsorship agreement in which Everest Poker was promoted during the World Series of Poker in 2008 and 2009 as the on-felt tournament sponsor.
Everest said the sponsorship deal called for it to pay $22.5 million and that it paid $6.2 million for the 2008 tournament sponsorship and $7.9 million for the 2009 tournament. It refused to pay the final $8.4 million after canceling the agreement for this year’s tournament.
Everest complained in that lawsuit that during broadcasts of the poker tournament in France by ESPN affiliate television network RTL9, the Everest Poker image was electronically replaced with the “virtual signage” of competitor Full Tilt Poker’s logo.
Harrah’s denied it violated the sponsorship deal and filed its own suit against Everest, charging breach of contract and leveling other claims.
Those cases remain active.
In Friday’s lawsuit, Everest Gaming Ltd., which says it owns the Everest Poker trademarks, complained Harrah’s subsidiary Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment Inc. continues to use Everest trademarks during the 2010 World Series of Poker now under way at the Rio.
“The felt on the poker tables being used for the 2010 World Series of Poker features at least one of Everest’s Everest Poker logo trademarks,” the lawsuit charged. “The Everest Poker trademarks also are on display at the Rio as large banners or wall posters, on the ‘inner rung’ of certain tables used for the 2010 World Series of Poker and on television monitors in the casino displaying the schedule of events.”
Everest Gaming, which says its poker websites have a worldwide player base of more than 170,000 people, complained in the suit that “defendants are refusing to remove the trademarks in an effort to try to force payment by Everest for defendant’s use of such marks, and in order to bolster the legitimacy of the World Series of Poker in the minds of tournament participants, fans and the viewing public.”
All of this, the company alleged, violates Everest’s rights to “control its well-known and distinctive trademarks” and will result in “substantial, irreparable harm to Everest and the goodwill associated with its trademarks.”
Attorneys for Harrah’s have not yet responded to the latest lawsuit, and the company’s policy is to not comment on litigation.
In responding to the initial lawsuit filed by Ultra Internet Media, Harrah’s said that through the sponsorship, Ultra Internet had “gained all of the exposure for its everestpoker.net website that it could have hoped for, and more.”
“In 2008 and 2009 the World Series of Poker was broadcast by ESPN and parties with whom it has contracted in over 170 countries, including the United States, collectively to over 250 million households, for over 6,000 hours,” the Harrah’s attorneys said in a court filing.
Carnival lasts all year at the Rio. With a float occasionally passing overhead and dropping beads while feathered dancers fire up the gamblers below, the Rio tries to keep its 120,000-square foot casino jumping with excitement. Special Brazilian mixed-drinks are also served throughout the casino. The hotel suites tend to be larger than similar priced rooms on the Strip and many offer excellent views with floor to ceiling windows.
The Rio offers some quality shows like "Penn & Teller" and "Chippendales." Many come to the Rio for the nightlife at the VooDoo Lounge, located on the 51st floor, or McFadden's Irish Pub on the casino level.
Others come for a bit relaxation at the Rio Spa or pool area and still others come to shop at the hotel's 60,000 square feet of shops. In each of these endeavors, the Rio attempts to make the experience a bit more fun and spontaneous.
The Rio also offers guests a variety of dining choices from all-American food at the All-American Bar & Grille to Gaylord India Restaurant for something a little spicier and even Carnival World Buffet for the indecisive.