The legal spat to use the Spartan Poker trademark in India has been resolved, and it’s a loss for Rajat Agarwal.
The Pokerguru founder filed a lawsuit in January against Spartan Online Poker Pvt. Ltd. and its executives including Amin Rozani, Rajeev Kanjani, Rohit Bhalla, Peter Abraham and Sameer Rattonsey. The four were former members of the Indian Poker Championship (IPC) who launched a new company that operates TheSpartanPoker.com website.
Incidentally, Agarwal’s group is also operating a website with the name “Spartan Poker,” sparking an ugly, legal battle between the two factions over intellectual property rights and corporate governance norms.
The fight has been put to rest—for now—by a single judge bench of the Calcutta High Court, which allowed Rozani’s group to continue its operations using the Spartan Poker brand and domain name.
In his order, Justice Soumen Sen pointed that the two factions signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2014, which “can be considered as an agreement to enter into a partnership agreement.” The judge also noted that profits were shared by the two groups under the MoU.
Agarwal, according to the court, also contributed some amount for issue of share capital, but the same has been denied by Quadrific Media Pvt. Ltd., the company that originally operated Spartan Poker. Agarwal was also given a share of the profits and remuneration as director of Quadrific Media even though he did not officially hold shares in the company.
The domain name, www.spartanpoker.com, was also not identified with Agarwal, the court said, nor did he spend on developing the web page, trade dress and designing of the mark and related expenses for its registration.
According to the government of India’s trademark of registry, Agarwal and Quadrific Media have applied to trademark Spartan Poker under the entertainment and gaming category, but neither application has been approved.
Agarwal may be able to claim damages from Spartan Online only if he succeeds in registering the trademark, the court said.
The Pokerguru founder, however, may be able to claim a share in the profits of the website until December 4, 2016—the day he claimed he was launching a new poker page—under the quasi-partnership agreement between the two groups.