Swedish PA threatens to sue Svenska Spel


Who has the right to the "Swedish Poker Championships" brand? The Swedish Poker Association (SPA) has threatened to sue the country's main online gambling company, Svenska Spel, over this issue.

A number of different Swedish Poker Championships have been held in the last few years, both live and online.

The SPA hosted its 2007 live championship in Tallinn, Estonia in March of this year, while Svenska Spel crowned a Swedish champion at Casino Cosmopol in Stockholm in June. Both the SPA and Svenska Spel will arrange online championships in November.

The two organizations have cooperated in the past, but now the SPA, claiming it's been hosting Swedish Poker Championships for more than 30 years, feels that Svenska Spel has crossed the line.

The SPA has thus issued a warning of trademark violation to Jesper Kärrbrink, CEO of Svenska Spel.

"It is very shocking that a crown corporation with monopoly status does not respect the law of trademark," said Peder Månsson, chairman of the Swedish Poker Association, according to the Gaming Intelligence Group Web site.

"Our Poker Association survives on our Swedish Poker Championships and we have nothing like the resources of Svenska Spel. It's obvious to us why Svenska Spel is encroaching on our trademark like this: our known and established Poker Championships, and poker in general, are increasingly popular. Therefore Svenska Spel hopes to eat into our market share to boost its bottom line."

Jacob Lagercrantz, spokesperson for Svenska Spel, doesn't agree with Peder Månsson.

"As far as we are concerned, you are not able to protect a trademark as generic as Swedish Poker Championships, since it is too common a concept. You could claim a trademark on a logotype which featured the words 'Swedish Poker Championships,' but not on the phrase alone," said Lagercrantz.

Lagercrantz also said that it's "a little bit weird" to hold a Swedish championship in Tallinn, and claims that Svenska Spel is the best choice for an online event, since the site is the only one to have its poker in Swedish krona.

Svenska Spel doesn't, however, claim to be the trademark holder, and, according to Lagercranz, the gambling company is hoping to work closely with the SPA in the future.

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