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Transamerica Dismisses Moniker from Lawsuit, Win for Domain Registrars

January 6, 2010Domain Registrars, Domaining, Domainnamewire, lawsuit, Moniker, Oversee.net, TransamericaComments Off on Transamerica Dismisses Moniker from Lawsuit, Win for Domain Registrars

Oversee.net and related companies dropped from Transamerica lawsuit.

Transamerica has dismissed Moniker, Oversee.net, Domain Systems, and Moniker Privacy Services LLC from its lawsuit over alleged trademark infringement. The parties filed a Joint Stipulation for Dismissal with prejudice on December 28, 2009. Moniker also withdrew its request for sanctions under Rule 11.

This is a big win for domain name registrars. Since the beginning, Moniker claimed it was merely a registrar and was protected under the Anti-Cybersquatting Protection Act from its customers’ actions.

But Transamerica’s lawsuit continues against a number of domain registrants who used Moniker as their registrar. Tracking down these other defendants may prove difficult, as it’s unclear how many provided accurate information in whois.

Of eleven summons with results reported back to the court, only four defendants have been successfully served: SwallowLane Holdings Ltd, VirtualSky, Ron Oron, and Domain Park Ltd. SwallowLane was served in person, and the others via email. Efforts to contact seven of the defendants via email failed: Omgi Media, Net 41 Media, Jayme Young, Jan Stroh, H.W. Barnes, G.H. Wagenaars, and Domain Ventures.


© DomainNameWire.com 2009.

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Related posts:

  1. Transamerica Files Amended Lawsuit Against Moniker
  2. Moniker to Request Sanctions Against Transamerica in Lawsuit
  3. Moniker and Transamerica to Enter Mediation

Judge Nixes Moniker’s Motion to Dismiss, Repercussions for Domain Registrars

December 14, 2009anti-cybersquatting protecion act, Domain Registrars, Domaining, Domainnamewire, Moniker, TransamericaComments Off on Judge Nixes Moniker’s Motion to Dismiss, Repercussions for Domain Registrars

Judge says defendants are more than just a domain name registrar.

United States District Judge Cecilia Altonaga has squashed a motion to dismiss by domain name registrar Moniker in its battle with Transamerica.

In a 25 page order (pdf), Altonaga denied Moniker’s motion and renewed a debate about whether domain name registrars can be held liable for their customer’s behavior. The judge was not attempting to judge Transamerica’s allegations, but merely if the case should go forward based on the allegations. Still, her decision should be troubling to domain name registrars.

The key issue is whether a registrar is immune under the Anti-Cybersquatting Protection Act (ACPA). In its Motion to dismiss, Moniker pointed to the actual language of ACPA as well as an often cited case that confirmed that registrars aren’t liable.

But Transamerica argued that Moniker wasn’t acting just as a registrar in this case, as the judge explains:

In this case, Transamerica alleges that Oversee and the Moniker Defendants, together with the ostensible registrants – the John Doe Defendants – are the de facto registrants of the domain names in question. Transamerica claims that Moniker was not merely acting as a registrant in providing registration services to the John Doe Defendants for the infringing domain names, but instead was part of a scheme to profit from the use of the infringing names. As Transamerica points out, Moniker receives a fee each time an internet user clicks on one of the links attached to the infringing domain sites; such payment establishes at least partial ownership in the domain name. (See Hearing 63, 67). Transamerica’s Amended Complaint alleges that Moniker Online provides registration services, Moniker Privacy protects the identity of the ostensible registrant, and Oversee provides the monetization service to the domain name. (See id. at 65). Together, these three Defendants are part of a scheme by which they profit from the misuse of others’ trade and service marks. (See id.). These allegations, taken as true as they must be on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, satisfy the requirement that Defendants be acting as more than registrars so as to strip them of immunity under the ACPA.

The judge agreed, and said that if the allegations are true, then the defendants are not merely the domain registrar for the subject domains. Transamerica argues that the defendants enable people to register the domains, hide their identity, and then use DomainSponsor to monetize the domains. (Oversee.net declined to comment for this article since this is an open legal issue.)

So what does this mean for a domain registrar that provides domain name privacy services, as most do? What does this mean for a domain registrar that puts up a placeholder parking page on an infringing domain, as most do? Or a registrar that doesn’t do a good enough job making sure customers use valid whois information?


© DomainNameWire.com 2009.

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Related posts:

  1. Moniker to Request Sanctions Against Transamerica in Lawsuit
  2. Moniker and Transamerica to Enter Mediation
  3. Moniker to (Again) Request Sanctions Against Transamerica

Lawyers: We Started Investigating Moniker in 2005

September 14, 2009Domain Registrars, Domaining, Domainnamewire, Moniker, TransamericaComments Off on Lawyers: We Started Investigating Moniker in 2005

Lawyers say investigation against Moniker has been long-running.

For the record, I have no idea if any of the allegations in Transamerica’s lawsuit against Moniker are true. But I do know that its lawyers bungled the first complaint they filed. It was rife with many “gotchas” that could be proven false with cursory investigation.

So I was somewhat surprised to see, in an opposition to Moniker’s request for more time to make a filing, that the law firm says it has been investigating Moniker since 2005. The law firm writes:

The main contentions in Defendants’ threatened Rule 11 motion were that Plaintiff failed to perform a cursory pre-filing factual investigation and that its legal claims were frivolous. The investigation leading to this dispute was anything but cursory. That investigation goes back to 2005 and involves virtually every one of the principal trademark clients at the law firm of Plaintiff’s counsel, all of whom have been affected by the conduct of Defendants described in Plaintiff’s complaint. Plaintiff’s pre-filing investigation includes (and included at the time Plaintiff’s original complaint was filed) reports from investigators in the Cayman Islands, China, Germany, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates.

That makes sense and is believable. But in all that time they didn’t talk to a domain name lawyer or someone familiar with the domain name system to figure out how it works? In all that time they missed so many red flags?

But the statement I really don’t get is that the lawyers say their amended complaint against Moniker is “fundamentally unchanged” from the original complaint, and:

Plaintiff did not amend its complaint to remove any frivolous contentions or material errors. Plaintiff amended its complaint to shorten and sharpen its allegations as a means of meeting Defendants legal contentions more directly, something that could not have been done before Defendants’ contentions were known.

I don’t know the definition of “frivolous contentions” or “material errors”. But to me, changing the crux of your argument from “Moniker owns all of these domains” and set up bogus entities to hide them is very different from “Moniker’s customers own all of these domains”.

Transamerica objection filing document (pdf)


© DomainNameWire.com 2009.

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Related posts:

  1. Moniker to (Again) Request Sanctions Against Transamerica
  2. Moniker to Request Sanctions Against Transamerica in Lawsuit
  3. Transamerica Files Amended Lawsuit Against Moniker