Sex.com case seeks to define domain names as property

In what adult Internet search engine Sex.com is calling a partial victory in its case against registrar VeriSign Inc., a US federal appeals court has asked the California Supreme Court to consider whether a domain name can be considered property.

The order given by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, and released by the adult site Thursday, comes as the latest twist in Sex.com Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gary Kremen's six-year battle over the fraudulent transference of his Sex.com domain name, and could have broad implications when defining property in the Internet age.

The case originated in 1995 when an ex-con named Stephen Cohen sent a forged letter to registrar Network Solutions Inc., which VeriSign purchased in 2000, requesting that the Sex.com domain be transferred to his name. Network Solutions transferred the domain without verifying the move with Kremen, and Cohen proceeded to build a thriving porn business around the hot domain.

Kremen sued Cohen in 1998 for the unlawful conversion of his property, although courts have generally held that, under the tort of conversion, property must be tangible.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the domain name returned to Kremen in 2001 and hit Cohen with a US$65 million judgment. The court rejected Kremen's claim against VeriSign, however, and he has appealed the decision.

Cohen, meanwhile has fled and is presumed to be living in Mexico. Unable to collect most of the multimillion dollar verdict from Cohen, Kremen is seeking to gain the balance from VeriSign.

VeriSign claims that a domain name isn't property and therefore, it is not responsible for the transfer, Sex.com said.

However, the adult site believes that the appeals court's deferral to the state supreme court over the property issue is a step toward winning its case. According to Sex.com, court opinions stretching back to 1880 give precedence to the idea that intangible property can be converted.

The case is being closely watched by the Internet industry as it offers to define the value of online real estate. What's more, a ruling in favor of Kremen could result in numerous lawsuits against domain registries, and VeriSign in particular.

No one from VeriSign was immediately available to comment on the case Thursday.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Scarlet Pruitt

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?