Aristocrat and Ainsworth are giants in the poker machine industry, both holding a huge portion of the worldwide market share. Normally, these two companies tend to stay out of each other’s way and leave their competition to their own devices – however, Ainsworth and Aristocrat have been embroiled in a nasty lawsuit over copyright on a popular game.
The Battle Over Jackpot Strike
Earlier this year, Ainsworth debuted its new Jackpot Strike pokie series and progressive jackpot game. A sneak peak at the poker machine was provided to industry insiders and, although little was revealed, Aristocrat saw enough to know that Jackpot Strike was a copy of its Lightning Link series.
Where Did the Similarities Come From?
Aristocrat has suspected that confidential documents were stolen to help Ainsworth develop its Jackpot Strike game. However, Ainsworth has defended itself by stating that a “reasonable search” was conducted and had failed to reveal any documents that belonged to its rival. Now, Aristocrat’s Barrister, J M Hennessy, SC, has presented another possibility in the form of a off-again-on again employee.
According to Hennessy, Sujay Prabhu left Ainsworth to work for Aristocrat but only last three weeks on the team. When he returned to Ainsworth as a game design team leader, Jackpot Strike was his first project. Ainsworth continues to deny that it has copied any gameplay or graphics from Aristocrat.
The company has even offered to show Aristocrat an exclusive preview of the Jackpot Strike to prove that the version of the game that was shown earlier this year will not be similar to the final product. However, Hennessy is not convinced that this will prove no content was copied. He argues that demoing an updated version of the game would make it difficult for Ainsworth to separate Prabhu’s role in developing the original and the new game.
Only Time Will Tell
A decision has yet to be made by Justice David Yates. Ainsworth has until July 5 to file evidence while Aristocrat has been given until July 24 to make its submissions. This is an incredibly interesting case, as it is the first time we’ve seen two gaming giants butt heads. We will be sure to keep you updated of any further developments in the case.