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Evolution has launched legal proceedings against Light & Wonder (L&W) alleging misappropriation of trade secrets relating to its Lightning Roulette game.

In a partially-redacted Nevada District Court complaint filed last Tuesday (28 May), the live casino giant accused L&W of using Evolution’s confidential Lightning Roulette math files and payout structures for its RouletteX and PowerX games.

The files were allegedly gleaned during negotiations between the parties when Evolution was aiming to partner with L&W’s subsidiary LNW Gaming to launch a land-based version of the game.

Evolution’s attorneys said: “L&W’s conduct has been and is malicious, deliberate, and willful.

“LNW Gaming induced Evolution into providing L&W with Evolution’s trade secrets for Lightning Roulette … under the auspices of entering into a partnership for developing physical Lightning Roulette game tables, but turned around and used those trade secrets to develop its own copycat products knowing that its acts would harm Evolution.”

Lightning Roulette, which launched in 2018, is one of Evolution’s more successful live products, with the supplier arguing it is the most profitable roulette game in the world.

Evolution’s attorneys said L&W’s actions have caused it reputational harm, loss of competitive advantage, loss of goodwill, lost compensation, and potential economic loss.

Evolution is seeking a declaration that L&W infringed its patents, an injunction to prevent further infringement, damages, and other legal costs.

Compensatory, exemplary, and punitive damages requested by Evolution include double or treble the amount of actual losses.

A L&W spokesperson told NEXT.io: “We are aware of the filing of the lawsuit by Evolution. As has been our practice, we do not comment on ongoing litigation, but what I can say is that we do not believe the claims have any merit and intend to vigorously defend against them.”

The Evolution-L&W deal

In the filing, Evolution said it entered parallel negotiations with LNW Gaming, then called Scientific Games, and an additional unnamed competitor to develop a land-based version of its Lightning Roulette game.

The Malta-based provider said it expressed its desire for the first tables to be in casinos by January 2022.

This, the provider said, was so that it would coincide with the US launch of the Lightning Roulette online version.

However, Evolution said LNW Gaming repeatedly delayed the progress of the negotiations.

Evolution added that LNW Gaming only re-engaged in negotiations once the company threatened to enter into an agreement with L&W’s competitor if the delays continued.

As part of the negotiations, Evolution shared the underlying math files for its roulette game.

These files, which were labelled COMPANY CONFIDENTIAL, outlined the mathematical design of the game.

The attorneys highlighted: “This information is proprietary, unique to the Lightning Roulette game, and cannot be readily ascertained through proper means, including by observing the Lightning Roulette features or by playing the game.”

The two providers eventually entered into a deal in March 2021 that required LNW Gaming to place a land-based version of Lightning Roulette by the January 2022 deadline.

L&W develops rival offering

The filing said that LNW Gaming sought to unilaterally terminate the deal in August 2021, despite leading Evolution to believe it was developing the agreed Lightning Roulette game tables.

L&W subsequently announced a “copycat” game known as RouletteX, offered in both electronic and physical table game format.

Evolution argued RouletteX’s appearance, features and functionality was “strikingly similar” to Lightning Roulette.

The filing highlighted that when L&W applied with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to allow casinos to offer it, the business said it was similar to the already authorised Lightning Roulette.

Evolution sent L&W a letter in February 2022 requesting it refrain from further violating its IP.

Evolution’s attorneys argued instead that L&W doubled down on its alleged infringement by releasing a second “copycat game” known as PowerX.

NEXT.io has reached out to Evolution for comment.

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