Heated Asian baccarat patent dispute boils over into U.S. lawsuit

An already intense Asian patent dispute has heated up with the filing of a U.S. lawsuit against Las Vegas-based casino supplier Shuffle Master Inc.

LT Game International Ltd. filed suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas claiming Shuffle Master has been disparaging LT Game in an attempt to undermine LT Game’s business prospects around the world.

Disputes between Shuffle Master and LT Game over “live dealer baccarat” technology first erupted in 2009 at the G2E Asia Gaming Show in Macau when customs officials in the Chinese city seized a Shuffle Master Rapid Baccarat unit based on allegations of patent infringement leveled by LT Game.

Issues over the 2009 seizure of the unit are still being litigated in Macau, where patent infringement claims can carry criminal penalties, Shuffle Master has said.

The dispute heated up in May during this year’s G2E Asia Gaming Show, which featured additional litigation over Shuffle Master’s Rapid Table Games Multi Game product.

This year’s dispute was witnessed by participants at the trade show and, for a time, Shuffle Master covered some of its products with sheets on orders from Macau Customs officials.

LT Game, a Chinese company based in Hong Kong and Macau, claims to own patents to electronic table game technology including systems allowing scores of players to bet on hands dealt by a live baccarat dealer.

The company is headed by businessman Jay Chun.

Shuffle Master, best known for making card shufflers, has denied infringing on any patents. Shuffle Master says its Rapid Baccarat system can accommodate up to 100 players.

In this week’s Las Vegas lawsuit, LT Game International Ltd. alleged Shuffle Master has violated state, U.S. and Macau laws barring unfair competition.

“Over the past year, defendant has begun an international campaign of disparagement of plaintiff and its products and has directly and indirectly interfered with plaintiff’s business and potential business activities,” said the suit filed by LT Game International Ltd., which says it is based in Ontario, Canada, and is the exclusive licensee of LT Game Ltd.’s technology in North America.

The suit claimed Shuffle Master has made misrepresentations about LT Game to current and prospective customers, including the Venetian and its parent company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., that have harmed LT Game’s business reputation.

The suit asks that Shuffle Master by ordered to stop that alleged conduct and that LT Game recover triple the amount of Shuffle Master profits attributed to the alleged wrongdoing.

A Shuffle Master spokeswoman on Wednesday said the company plans “to vigorously defend against this matter and in any other venue Mr. Chun may wish to try and use the courts rather than the marketplace to compete with Shuffle Master.”

LT Game International is represented in the new lawsuit by the law firms McDonald Carano Wilson LLP in Las Vegas and Meredith & Keyhani PLLC in New York.

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  1. This is truly ironic given that China is possibly the number one source of counterfeited and/pirated goods in the world.