European sports betting company William Hill has filed suit in New Jersey against daily fantasy sports giant FanDuel. The issue at hand is FanDuel’s apparent plagiarism of William Hill’s “How to Bet” guide and other marketing materials.
The suit demands several remedies from the court. Most importantly, William Hill is seeking injunctive relief from the plagiarized material. In other words, the company wants the court to bar FanDuel from using the material anymore.
William Hill also wants the court to award damages to it to compensate for both the profits FanDuel made through the materials and the money William Hill lost in legal fees and prospective revenues. It is unclear how much damage William Hill intends to show that the plagiarism has caused the company.
Evidence of plagiarism is so damning, it’s comical
At first glance, this kind of lawsuit might seem petty or frivolous. There’s only so many ways to bet, so some of the language is going to be quite similar at different companies.
However, take a look at some of the evidence. It is William Hill on the left, FanDuel on the right:
Wowzers. It looks like someone at FanDuel literally copied and pasted the verbiage from William Hill into the FanDuel materials.
Perhaps the most damning example is the one that followed. Be sure to read the second line of the FanDuel version on the right:
Did you see that? That’s right – the copy job was so blatant that FanDuel forgot to erase William Hill’s name from the paragraph.
That’s some high school level cheating right there. One Twitter user pointed out the copy job even extended to the contact information:
The original FanDuel document had William Hill’s support phone number at the end of it.
— Captain Jack (@capjack2000) October 24, 2018
William Hill’s customer support number appeared at the bottom of the FanDuel document.
As William Hill US CEO Joe Asher later said:
“We are not litigious people but this is ridiculous. If the court finds in our favor, a portion of the proceeds will fund scholarships for creative writing programs at New Jersey universities.”
FanDuel just can’t get it together in New Jersey
Hopefully, FanDuel moves to settle this affair as quickly as possible. The last thing that the site needs is another black eye.
In late September, the company endured a public relations nightmare after a computer glitch artificially inflated odds on an NFL game. FanDuel chose to deny bettors who took advantage of the glitch any sort of payout whatsoever.
The resulting social media storm eventually persuaded the company to honor the bets. However, the fact that it did so under duress just made the company look petty and amateurish.
Two months prior, the new NJ sportsbook had another public meltdown when it turned away bettors with winning tickets in a late-night contest. The action sparked cries that FanDuel was short on cash. It also caused a minor firestorm just days after the sportsbook opened for business.
Obviously, plagiarism is a serious charge. Given the preponderance of evidence, FanDuel will likely try to reach a quiet conclusion so that the charges can begin to fade.
However, the real problem is that FanDuel is gaining a reputation for a certain pattern of sloppy and unprofessional behavior. FanDuel may claim that’s unfair, but in this day and age, perception is more important than it ever has been before.