SHFL reports a patent win against LT Game
A Macau unit of casino equipment manufacturer SHFL entertainment Inc says it has been cleared of any wrongdoing under Macau law regarding the technology used in its popular Rapid Baccarat product.
Locally-based casino supplier LT Game Ltd, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Paradise Entertainment Ltd, complained that SHFL’s product – a table game with electronic bets but featuring a live dealer – infringed an LT Game patent in Macau for multi-terminal systems combining electronic betting with a live dealer.
In Macau patent infringement is a criminal offence. As such, the case was brought by the Public Prosecutions Office, with businessman Jay Chun – chairman of LT Game and of Paradise – as what’s known under the Criminal Procedure Code system as an “assistant” to proceedings.
“We are very pleased that the court has found no patent infringement by SHFL Macau. We have consistently maintained that our Rapid Baccarat solution does not infringe Mr Chun’s patent,” said Ken Jolly, SHFL’s executive vice president, Asia, in a statement.
Business Daily understands the presiding tribunal – the Court of First Instance – issued its judgement on Friday in Chinese with a Portuguese translation. Mr Chun – currently overseas – is believed to be reserving his right to lodge an appeal against the decision, while he and his lawyers consider the judgement. There was no official comment from him or from LT Game.
In Macau, judgements from the Court of First Instance are not automatically made public. It depends on one or more of the parties involved choosing to release the documents.
The dispute first came to public attention at the Global Gaming Expo Asia trade show in Macau in 2009. Macau Customs officers detained several executives of the then Shuffle Master Inc. and some of the firm’s equipment – a Rapid Baccarat electronic table game unit – was seized after a complaint from Paradise. Two years later prior to G2E Asia 2011, LT Game obtained a temporary injunction from a Macau court preventing SHFL displaying the Rapid Baccarat product at the show. On the second day of the event, SHFL was granted temporary relief from that order after applying to the court.
The current court case had a first hearing on April 18. While the dispute has been awaiting adjudication, it has posed an obstacle to SHFL selling Rapid Baccarat in Macau. The firm now has a new generation product called SHFL Fusion Hybrid.
Data from the local regulator the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, show that revenue from the ‘live multi-game’ segment – including the sort of electronic table game products made by LT Game and SHFL – rose 92 percent year-on-year in the second quarter from 184 million patacas (US$23 million) to 351 million patacas.
Union Gaming Research Macau estimated in a report in May that LT Game had more than 50 percent of Macau’s current market for electronic table games. The research house added it believed the firm had an order backlog of “at least a few hundred additional ETG seats in Macau”.
The growth of the product segment has coincided with the rise of minimum bets on traditional live dealer tables on Macau casinos’ mass floors in the wake of the government’s table cap.
Last week it was announced that fellow Nevada manufacturer Bally Technologies Inc would pay US$1.3 billion in a leveraged deal to acquire SHFL entertainment and its units.