Another chapter in the long-running Indian online poker industry dispute between Quadrific Media Pvt. Ltd. and online entrepreneur and former Quadrific director Rajat Agarwal closed this week when the World Intellectual Property Organisation rejected Quadrific’s bid to stop Agarwal from using the Spartan Poker brand.
Earlier this year Agarwal filed litigation against Quadrific and four of its executives, who had formed a company titled Spartan Online Poker Limited to operate the website TheSpartanPoker.com.
Agarwal claimed that his company had a prior claim to the Spartan Poker domain and brand, which Quadrific had usurped.
Quadrific responded with a WIPO fling of its own, arguing that Agarwal “has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name” and “does not own the Spartan Poker trademark and is not known in the market as ‘Spartan Poker.’”
The Quadrific complaint averred: “The disputed domain name does not correspond to a company name or product of Agarwal, and the respondent has not used it in relation to his services.”
Piling on the pressure, Quadrific also alleged that attempts were made to remove Agarwal from the company’s board on grounds of fraud and embezzlement, but these were frustrated when Agarwal obtained a court injunction.
In addition, Agarwal had taken measures to block the Spartan Poker domain, which Quadrific alleged was intended to disrupt its business.
The WIPO decision found that Quadrific failed to prove that the Spartan Poker trademark had been registered and used in bad faith.
“The Complainant in no way makes any allegation of bad faith registration on the part of the Respondent. In fact, the Complainant admits in the Complaint that the Respondent had registered the Disputed Domain Name at the request of the Complainant,” the WIPO panel ruled. “On this basis, it is clear that the Respondent registered the Disputed Domain Name in good faith, as such was done at the request and with the consent of the Complainant for the purposes of the Spartan Poker business.”
The WIPO finding cuts across an earlier decision by the Calcutta High Court, which permitted Quadrific group to remain operational under the Spartan domain and brand because Agarwal was not identified with the Spartan Poker domain and had not invested in the development, registration and creative content of the website.
However, the court advised that Agarwal may claim damages from The Spartan Online Limited company if he succeeds in registering the trademark. Both Agarwal and Quadrific are currently in a race to do just that.