CTH, the exclusive holder of English Premier League (EPL) football broadcasting rights in Thailand, yesterday sued US-based Apple Inc and its local office for allegedly violating the Thai cable-TV operator's rights, and sought Bt100 million in damages.
Suratchai Mansrithaworn, representing CTH, filed a petition with the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court against Apple Inc, Apple South Asia (Thailand) and Gene D Levoff, the authorised director of Apple South Asia (Thailand).
They were accused of violating intellectual property rights for commercial purposes and counterfeiting or altering a registered trademark. The legal action was brought against Apple after its online computer-application store made available for download an app called “Sport Channel” that allows users to view live broadcasts of EPL matches, according to Suratchai. The application costs US$20 (Bt635) for iPhone and $20.99 for iPad, he said.
CTH – the licensee for EPL broadcasting rights in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos for three seasons from 2013-2015 – gained nothing from the app downloads or any fees from Apple, according to the lawsuit. CTH won the bid for the rights with an estimated offer of Bt9 billion. The company has not disclosed the exact figure.
As of yesterday, the Sport Channel app was available for download at $19.99 for a normal version and $29.99 for an HD version. In the details of the app, its developer is named as Somsak Boonpetch. The app’s description and menu are in Thai.
Suratchai said AIS is the only mobile-phone operator authorised to broadcast live EPL matches in Thailand.
He said CTH had sent written warnings “through many means” to Apple and others, asking them to stop offering the service, which it deems as violating its rights. The company has not received a reply, however.
The lawyer also said that CTH might consider seeking a court injunction ordering the suspension of EPL broadcasts via the application. He said the offence of violating the broadcast rights carries a penalty of between six months and four years’ imprisonment, in addition to a fine of between Bt100,000 and Bt800,000.
The court yesterday scheduled the first hearing of the plaintiff for November 18 and a hearing of witnesses on December 23.
There has been no official reaction from Apple regarding this case, and Apple South Asia (Thailand) could not be reached for comment yesterday.