Macau’s Court of First Instance has “dismissed” a patent-related lawsuit brought by SHFL Entertainment (Asia) Ltd against fellow casino gaming equipment supplier Paradise Entertainment Ltd, its chairman Jay Chun, subsidiary LT Game Ltd and an entity called Natural Noble Ltd.
Hong Kong-listed Paradise Entertainment said in a press release issued on Thursday that the dismissal of the case had occurred on Tuesday after SHFL Entertainment Asia “withdrew its [civil] claim” against the defendants.
Paradise Entertainment said SHFL Entertainment Asia had been ordered to pay “all court fees relating to the aforesaid court case”.
GGRAsia on Thursday afternoon approached Scientific Games Corp – the parent company of the SHFL Entertainment Asia interests – for comment on the matter, but had received no response by the time this story went online.
Paradise Entertainment’s press statement said SHFL Entertainment Asia had been challenging whether two patents registered in Macau by Natural Noble gave the latter firm rights over “all and any” products involving multiple terminals for electronic casino table games “that involve a human croupier”.
LT Game makes use of the Natural Noble technology in order to market such a product in Macau and elsewhere under the name Live Multi Game.
Scientific Games inherited the intellectual property of SHFL Entertainment Asia when Scientific Games took over Bally Technologies Inc in a US$5.1-billion deal in November 2014. A year earlier, Bally Technologies had bought SHFL Entertainment Asia’s parent, SHFL Entertainment Inc, in a US$1.3-billion transaction.
U.S.-based SHFL Entertainment makes multi-terminal electronic table game (ETG) casino products featuring a live dealer. But when the firm attempted to show such products at several Macau trade shows, Macau customs officials ordered the firm to switch them off and cover them up, citing patent infringement.
Paradise Entertainment, Mr Chun, LT Game and Natural Noble have sought to assert in Macau what they say are their rights to such technology.
Paradise Entertainment said in its Thursday statement that its side had “always refuted all allegations put forward by SHFL and restated its rights under the relevant patents registered in the Macao Special Administrative Region”.
According to the Paradise Entertainment statement on Thursday, SHFL Entertainment Asia had said in its suit that the defendants had behaved in a way that amounted to an “abuse of intellectual property rights” and that had “infringed the rules of fair competition”.
According to Paradise Entertainment, SHFL Entertainment Asia had also been asking the Macau court to order the defendants to refrain from “invoking or claiming such exclusive right, before the general public and the media, or being in contact with potential parties interested to acquire such technical solutions in the Macao Special Administrative Region”.
The Paradise Entertainment statement added that SHFL Entertainment Asia had additionally asked the court to order the defendants to refrain from “suggesting, hinting or, in any other form, creating in third parties the belief that they are owners of such right”, and also from “affirming or claiming or, in any way, invoking publicly or before any agents or intervenient in the market that they are owners of all and any technical solutions in which the concept of multi-gaming is implemented”.
In late April, Paradise Entertainment announced it had agreed to transfer all of its ETG technology, patents and other intellectual property to global gaming supplier International Game Technology Plc, for commercial exploitation in all markets “other than Macau”.
In August 2014, LT Game had announced a three-year distribution deal with International Game Technology (IGT), a Nevada-based supplier of slot machines.
Under the terms of the agreement IGT had agreed to distribute LT Game’s live and electronic table game systems in the U.S. and Canada. LT Game in turn had agreed to serve as distributor for IGT’s slot machines in the Macau market.
IGT in April 2015 completed a US$6.4-billion merger with Italy-based lottery equipment specialist GTech SpA, creating a new entity called International Game Technology Plc.
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"The [Macau] government has a lead in this subject in regards to what should be done after the [gaming] concessions expire. We will be first listening to what the government will say”
Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings