Trademark arguments heard over lottery

ATLANTA --- A popular Georgia Lottery game, MoneyBag$, used a name that infringed on a registered trademark, according to a lawyer for two men who claim they should have been paid $4.5 million.


The Georgia Supreme Court heard their side of the dispute Monday and attorneys for the Georgia Lottery Corporation and Atlanta game-maker Scientific Games who argued the trademark was never really valid.

In 1994, the lottery used the name on 20 million tickets over the next two years. Then George Kyle registered the name as a trademark but sold fewer than 50 copies of a game he created with that name.

In 2000, the lottery wanted to sell more Money Bags instant-game tickets and got permission from Kyle to use the name, and again in 2002.

In 2005, the lottery didn't get his permission before using the name. Now Kyle, and the man he gave his rights to, Frank Mankovitch, are suing.

The fact that the lottery asked permission proves who had the right to the name, according to the men's lawyer, Todd Merolla.

"That admits and acknowledges my clients' rights as of that point in time in 2000 and 2002," Merolla said. "If they did have rights in 2000 and 2002, how did they lose them?"

The court could conclude they lost their right to the name by abandoning it.

Mark VanderBroek, an attorney for the Lottery Corporation and Scientific Games, said neither man marketed their game.

"The old courts used to say, if you don't have trade, you don't have a trademark," he said.