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Las Vegas venues respond to $500M karaoke trademark lawsuit

A company that produces accompaniment tracks for karaoke machines has filed a massive trademark infringement lawsuit against 99 Las Vegas casinos, bars and karaoke jockeys. The suit, filed by Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp., seeks $500 million for what the company says is the regular use of its tracks without permission.

Many of the major defendants have yet to respond to the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas in February. However, Caesars Entertainment Corp., owner of Caesars Palace and Bally's Las Vegas, has responded angrily. In its reply, Caesars accuses Slep-Tone of shopping for quick settlements by filing the large suit without warning and by including entertainment venues in the litigation instead of focusing on the karaoke jockeys who host the shows.

In the lawsuit, Slep-Tone says that karaoke machines in Las Vegas routinely use accompaniment tracks produced by the company. They point to trademarks on the CDs, graphics and lyrics used in the shows as evidence.

Caesars and other venues who have responded so far say that the karaoke jockeys named in the lawsuit are independent contractors who have full control over their shows. The businesses say they have no knowledge or control of where the karaoke jockeys get their music. In a standard response, several smaller bars say the karaoke jockeys they use have assured them that they have proper permission to play the tracks.

Caesars, at least, believes that the litigation is a nuisance suit that does not represent legitimate trademark interests but is in fact an attempt to extort settlement money. It is asking the court to either dismiss the suit or split its portion off into its own proceeding.

Source: VEGAS INC, "Las Vegas casinos, bars fighting $500 million suit over karaoke music tracks," Steve Green, March 23, 2012

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