Company Challenges Arkansas Lottery Over Trademark

By Joseph Mandour on December 12, 2011

cash-suitcase-thumb-200x174-31736 California – An attorney representing a Little Rock marketing firm argued this week before the state Supreme Court that his client should be allowed to proceed with a trademark infringement lawsuit against the Arkansas State Lottery Commission.

After hearing arguments, the state Supreme Court did not immediately issue a ruling in the trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Alpha Marketing against the Lottery Commission. In its lawsuit, Alpha Marketing is seeking exclusive rights to use the terms, “Arkansas Lottery,” “Arkansas Lotto,” and “Lottery Arkansas.”

Ed Dozier, owner of Alpha Marketing, filed the complaint after the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office warned him that he would be hit with a lawsuit if he continued to use the terms. The Attorney General’s Office claimed that the Secretary of State’s Office should have never granted the trademarks in the first place, since lotteries were not legal in the state until 2008 when voters approved a constitutional amendment to allow a state lottery to raise funds for college scholarships.

Earlier this year, Judge Wendell Griffen of Pulaski County, denied a motion by the state to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the lottery has sovereign immunity as a state agency. The state then appealed the decision to the high court. However, the attorney for Alpha Marketing argued in court Thursday that the state lottery is run as a for-profit business and therefore, sovereign immunity does not apply.

“It’s a state-run monopoly. They charge for tickets and they deduct their operating expenses and they make a profit,” the attorney stated.

Assistant Attorney General Mark Ohrenberger, challenged the attorney’s argument by saying that if the Lottery Commission was truly a for-profit entity, then the state Department of Finance and Administration could be labeled a for-profit business because it collects taxes. Ohrenberger went on to say that one hundred percent of the lottery’s profits must go for college scholarships.

During Thursday’s arguments, the judges questioned whether the issue was presented to them properly, indicating that Judge Griffen had not stated in his order his reasons for denying the motion.

It would appear that the state of Arkansas would have mud on its face if it didn’t even have the right to use the Arkansas Lottery trademark for its own state-run lottery.

Related Articles: