TIPOS, the state-controlled lottery company, will have to pay more than Sk1 billion (€33.2 million) to Športka for unauthorised use of lottery trademarks as well as technical and support know-how.On August 12, the Supreme Court upheld the verdict of the Bratislava Regional Court in March 2007. The regional court found Tipos guilty, the Pravda daily wrote. Tipos is the Slovakia's largest lottery company and is owned and run by the Finance Ministry.
“Tipos will have to pay Športka and stop using the business practices they have appropriated from Športka,” Petra Rúžičková from the Supreme Court told the SITA newswire.
The Finance Ministry said it will not comment on the ruling until it has reviewed the written verdict. The ministry could appeal the decision with the General Prosecutor.
The dispute over trademarks has dragged on since 2000. At that time, Športka filed a complaint for unauthorised use of the trademarks Športka, Šanca and Mates. The companies also litigated over the question of appropriated business practices and lost profit.
A partial verdict was issued in July 2004, when the Bratislava Regional Court ordered Tipos to pay almost Sk170 million to Športka for unauthorised use of Športka’s know-how. Tipos challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court, but the high court declined to render a verdict until the regional court had ruled on all issues. When that verdict was issued in March, both sides appealed.
Actually, the dispute goes all the way back to the split-up of Czechoslovakia in 1993. Športka took over the Slovak part of the federal Sazka lottery company, gaining control of its lotteries, but the Finance Ministry would not grant Športka licenses to run them. The ministry then launched its own lottery company, Tipos.
The plan was that Tipos would run lotteries, but Športka would provide technical and support services to Tipos. In 1999 Športka lost the right to technically secure lotteries from Tipos and it filed a complaint.