|Industry||Intellectual Property Licensing|
|Key people||Calvin Ayre, Founder|
Bodog is an entertainment brand founded in 2000 by Canadian entrepreneur Calvin Ayre. While primarily associated with online gambling companies, the brand has adorned a diverse crop of ventures, including music and television productions, a mixed martial arts (MMA) league and consumer coffee sales.
The Bodog brand first entered public consciousness in 2000, when Ayre, then a technology supplier to established online gambling companies, launched his own gambling company using the Bodog.com domain. Unlike most of his competitors, Ayre chose a company name that made no reference to gambling in order not to limit the brand’s future scope. Ayre has spoken at length about the criteria that factored into coming up with the Bodog name, including having six letters or fewer, being easy to spell and pronounce, and having some personality.
With Ayre serving as the company’s CEO and pitchman, the Bodog gambling site quickly became a market leader, culminating in Ayre’s appearance on the 2006 Forbes Magazine ‘billionaires’ issue. In the same year, Bodog relocated its global headquarters from Costa Rica to Antigua. By that time, the Bodog brand was associated with the Bodog Music record label, the Bodog Fight MMA league and its associated television series, as well as the annual Bodog.com Poker and Sports Marketing Conference in Las Vegas. In keeping with Ayre’s Scots lineage, Bodog had its own tartan officially recognized by the Scottish Tartans Authority.
The Bodog name also lent itself to charitable efforts including Bodog Salutes The Troops, a weekend-long music festival and poker tournament held in Hawaii in 2006 for the benefit of the Fisher House Foundation, which provides accommodation for families of US military veterans undergoing hospital treatment.
Shift to brand-licensing model
Following passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006, Ayre sold the Bodog.com online gambling business to the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group (MMGG) based in Kanhawake, Quebec. Despite his retirement from the online gambling industry, Ayre retained ownership of the Bodog brand, which he began licensing to other companies via the BodogBrand.com portal.
The Bodog brand has since been associated with regional online gambling companies in Canada, the UK, mainland Europe and Asia, as well as the worldwide Bodog Poker Network. Bodog also signed a deal to market Illy coffee products in the Philippines under the Bodog Coffee banner. In May 2010, the Bodog brand acquired the Slots.com domain at auction for $5.5m, the then fifth-highest price ever paid for a domain, in order to expand the brand’s licensing opportunities.
The Bodog logo has featured on the jerseys of UK football teams, including Premier League side West Bromwich Albion F.C. and Scottish First Division team Ayr United F.C. In August 2013, Bodog signed a three-year, multi-million pound deal with Premier League side Arsenal FC to act as the club's official Asian betting partner. The brand has also entered into deals with the Canadian Football League and the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers franchise.
Bodog.com domain seizures
The Bodog.com domain has twice been the subject of legal action in US courts. In 2007, a US federal court ordered the domain seized and awarded to intellectual property patent holding company 1st Technology LLC, based on claims that the Bodog software infringed on 1st Technology-owned patents. 1st Technology has brought similar claims against other online gambling companies as well as non-gambling internet companies such as Facebook and Pandora, earning 1st Technology the nickname of ‘patent troll.’ The Bodog.com claim was resolved in April 2009 after MMGG reached a settlement with 1st Technology in order to continue using the Bodog.com domain.
In July 2011, Bodog announced that its deal with MMGG would terminate by the end of the year, after which MMGG transferred its customers to its new Bovada brand. Despite the fact that the Bodog.com domain had become inactive, the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency seized the domain in February 2012 in conjunction with the US Attorney for Maryland’s unsealing of indictments against Bodog for alleged illegal gambling activities. However, the dormant Bodog.com was owned by a company based and licensed in Antigua. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has repeatedly upheld the right of that Caribbean nation’s online gambling industry to offer services to US customers, a ruling that could have a bearing on the outcome of Maryland’s litigation.
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