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More trouble for fantasy sports firm

FanDuel TV ad switch as patent claim adds to woes

Nigel Eccles at Dynamic EarthFantasy sports firm FanDuel is scaling back its television advertising in the US as it continues to battle a public backlash against the sector and now faces a complaint of patent infringement.

Chief executive Nigel Eccles (pictured), who recently told an audience in Edinburgh that the company was one of the top five TV advertisers in the US, has now dropped out of the top ten. So has its main rival DraftKings.

Both companies are facing official investigations and law suits as arguments rage as to whether fantasy sports breach the country’s strict online gambling ban.

Mr Eccles said in an interview that FanDuel will focus less on television in the future and more on cheaper, more targeted digital ads. The company will also dial back the emphasis on cash prizes. It has been paying $2 billion a year to customers.

He also confirmed to Bloomberg his earlier comments in an interview with Daily Business in which he said the company was in no rush to seek an IPO or that it would merge with DraftKings.

Fantasy sports operators are fighting off a strong lobby opposed to the games and Mr Eccles has called for state regulation of the industry.

More than 25 federal actions have been filed against against both FanDuel and DraftKings since the start of October. Now they are facing a claim of patent infringement.

Virtual Gaming Technologies has filed three complaints.  It claims that DraftKings, FanDuel and Fox Sports have infringed on the inventions of William W. Junkin, president of and founder of a company called FantaSports in 1992. He is described as one of the pioneers in the development of fantasy sports games. The claim is that two patents in the field of real-time, interactive gaming systems that were assigned by Junkin to Virtual Gaming have been infringed upon by the defendants.

This action follows complaints from Congress, state legislators and even an NFL player.

FanDuel is joined by DraftKings as a defendant in numerous class action complaints whereby it has been claimed by plaintiffs that there was allegedly improper use of “insider information” by employees to gain competitive advantages over the non-employee daily fantasy sports player.

Additionally, FanDuel has been sued by Washington Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon for allegedly using his name, image and likeness without his consent and in relation to commercial activity, depriving Garcon of monies he claims he should have received if they otherwise would have struck a deal that granted such rights.



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