Court Sides with Sportsbet to Block CrownBet’s Planned Rebrand

Australian bookmaker Sportsbet has succeeded in its endeavor to block rival CrownBet’s planned rebrand (at least for now), after a Federal Court injunction order was issued on Wednesday compelling the latter operator to nix its plans, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Canadian gambling giant The Stars Group purchased an 80% stake in CrownBet earlier this year. At about the same time, CrownBet acquired William Hill’s ailing Australian business, beating Sportsbet in a highly competitive bidding process. Sportsbet is the Australian business of major gaming and betting operator Paddy Power Betfair and is the second largest bookmaker in Australia behind Tabcorp.

William Hill joined a plethora of operators in the Australian market back in 2013 when it purchased the local business of Sportingbet as well as the Centrebet and Tom Waterhouse brands in a £459.4-million deal. The British bookmaker never managed to improve the performance of the three brands, which it later on brought under the single William Hill Australia brand, and announced early in 2018 that it was reviewing their sale.

The Australian operations of bet365, Ladrokes, and Paddy Power Betfair as well as CrownBet were reported to be the four bidders for the underperforming business. Eventually, CrownBet was selected over Sportsbet in the final bidding round to assume control over William Hill Australia.

Reports emerged in May that CrownBet was considering the possibility to rebrand as Sportingbet to distance itself from its previous majority owner, Australian casino operator Crown Resorts, and to celebrate the fact that the Sportingbet brand was back in the family. Sportingbet was originally owned by CrownBet’s current CEO Matt Tripp and his father, Alan.

Trademarks War

Last month, CrownBet filed a “Change of company name reservation” form with Australia’s Securities and Investments Commission to reserve the Sportingbet Pty Ltd name, thus confirming its plan to rebrand.

Shortly after, Sportsbet filed an application with the Federal Court seeking to prevent its rival operator from carrying out its plan. The Australian business of Paddy Power Betfair argued that the Sportingbet brand was very similar to its own and could “mislead or deceive” betting customers.

An injunction order issued on Wednesday sided with Sportsbet. Commenting on the latest development, a Sportsbet spokesperson told local media that the decision showed the court shared their own concerns that CrownBet’s planned rebrand could result in customers being misled that the two bookmakers were related or were the same entity.

CrownBet said that they were reviewing the order and what options they had. It is thus yet to be seen whether the company would contest the ruling in court or decide on another name for its business.

The purchase of CrownBet by The Stars Group, and CrownBet’s purchase of William Hill Australia is set to create Australia’s third largest corporate bookmaker, behind Tapcorp and Sportsbet. The Australian betting market has grown 10% over the past year and has become a highly competitive space. The latest legal battle between Sportsbet and CrownBet comes as another manifestation of operators’ efforts to maintain a good position in the local market.

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