Last week, seven of the world’s leading professional poker players filed a motion for summary judgment against WPT Enterprises in federal district court in Los Angeles.
In their motion for summary judgment, Plaintiffs Chris Ferguson, Andrew Bloch, Annie Duke, Phil Gordon, Joseph Hachem, Howard Lederer, and Greg Raymer claim the World Poker Tour has committed multiple violations of federal antitrust laws.
Specifically, the plaintiffs seek a summary declaration by the Court that WPTE and the casinos which host WPT events have conspired to force poker players to sign non-negotiable "releases" that require those players to grant WPTE the right to use their valuable names, likenesses, voices and images for zero compensation so that WPTE can exploit these rights to promote its own products and services.
The plaintiffs contend that the WPTE and the casinos have agreed to boycott and exclude from WPT events any poker player who does not sign such a "release."
The plaintiffs also claim the WPT wants to restrict the number of poker tournaments in competition with the WPT by requiring that the casinos cannot sponsor any televised non-WPT events.
If the motion is granted, WPTE will be barred from: agreeing with the casinos to require the plaintiffs and other poker players to sign releases granting WPTE the right to use those players’ intellectual property rights to promote WPTE products and services; using the grant of plaintiffs’ intellectual property rights obtained from past releases; and prohibiting casinos from sponsoring non-WPT poker tournaments.