‘David and Goliath battle’: Australian sports website faces lawsuit from US giant

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TPT launched in October 2014 and announced it had raised $58 million from investors as of 2018. PV was founded in September 2017 by former Ninemsn, Microsoft and RadiumOne executive Kerry McCabe.

PV raised an estimated $4 million in funding from investors including Kyrgios and Young Rich List member Matt Berriman, and also has a content sharing deal with News Corporation’s Fox Sports. It has published over 800 original articles since launch, attracting more than 6.2 million unique visitors.

Jeter’s company is seeking damages and costs, and for PV to publish corrections because of the two websites’ alleged similarities, and because of four original TPT articles which the US giants claim PV represented as their own by including links to them in an aggregated reading list.

PV refutes all of TPT’s claims and has filed a cross-claim alleging TPT is in breach of PV’s trademark in Australia. PV argues that when TPT first registered its trade mark it had “no intention” to use, assign or authorise it for use in Australia.

One of PV’s logos (L) and one of TPT’s logos. PV no longer uses this logo. Credit:PlayersVoice and The Player’s Tribune

TPT revealed in court documents that its website had more than 80 million visitors between October 2014 and July 2018 – 863,363 of those came from Australia.

Among TPT’s claims of cosmetic similarities between the websites are logos, colour scheme, website design, “predominant use of images rather than text”, layout of articles and use of “motivational quotes and/or headlines in bold white text”.

TPT also alleges PV breaches owing to “the predominant use of the first person athletes and contributors’ voices for content”. TPT accepted PV changed some of the alleged cosmetic similarities in March 2018.

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The cosmetic similarity allegations extend to social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

On content similarities, TPT points to its original articles written by soccer players Romelu Lukaku, Angel Di Maria, Tomi Juric and Edinson Cavani – which were shared as links by PV in an aggregated reading list – as proof PV “promoted its business by reference to” TPT’s reputation and good will with readers.

“[PV] has represented to a significant number of persons in Australia that … [PV] is published and created by or is otherwise associated with [TPT] … [and PV has] the sponsorship or approval of [TPT],” the statement of claim reads.

“[PV] has used and continues to use, as a trade mark a sign, the PLAYERSVOICE Mark, that is deceptively similar to the PLAYERS TRIBUNE Mark, in respect of goods and services for which the PLAYERS TRIBUNE Mark is registered.”

The matter is listed for further case management in the Federal Court on April 17. TPT, PV and their lawyers were contacted for comment.

Anthony is a reporter at The Age.

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