Anyone who follows the domain dispute world long enough knows that the UDRP process can be a quick and inexpensive route to resolving the dispute. Of course there are many civil cases filed throughout the U.S. under the ACPA, but never before has a domain dispute resulted in criminal prosecution, until now. State prosecutors in New Jersey have now arrested a domain name owner for doamin theft. Domain Name News has a great article which provides all the details. (see here)
The domain at issue was www.P2P.com. It was co-owned Marc Ostrofsky (a well known domain owner), Albert Angel (well known attorney and former Justice Department prosecutor) and his wife Lesli Angel. The domain was stolen in 2006 and sold it on Ebay four months later for $111,000, even though it was purchased by the Ostofsky and the Angels for $160,000 in 2005. The alleged thief ultimately sold the domain to NBA basketball player Mark Madsen, who has acquired his own large domain portfolio, but who appears to be a good faith purchaser of the domain.
The interesting thing about this case, is that the registrar GoDaddy was also sued by Ostofsky and the Angels for negligence and contributory trademark infringement under Anti-Cyber Piracy statute. Although many assume that registrars have immunty and believe that GoDaddy is off the hook, our readers should be aware of recent developments in ACPA case law. In another civil domain theft case, a Court recently ruled against regsitrar NameCheap in denying its motion to dismiss from the case of Solid Host NL, v. NameCheap, Inc., CV085414-C.D.Cal 2009. The Court found that NameCheap was acting as a privacy service and not as a resgistrar and thus the immunity that most registrars are afforded did not apply. Our good friend Marco Randazza, from The Legal Satyricon, was heavily involved in that and a full copy of that opinion is available here.
So, the ever changing world of domain disputes took a few positive steps forward in the fight against domain theft and criminal prosecution. We will keep you posted on the developments of these two cases as we learn more.