Verizon Sues DirectNic and Sigmund Solares et al. for Cybersquatting – Over $28.8 Million Dollars in Damage Sought
Verizon has filed a cybersquatting complaint in Florida US District Court [pdf] against several companies and individuals. The complaint alleges over 288 cybersquatting violations. Among those named in the case are domain name registrar DirectNic.com and Sigmund Solares, the CEO of Directnic. Others named in the case include The Producers, Inc, Intercosmos Media Group, Domain Contender, Michael Gardner, Noah Lieske and ten “John Does”. Solares, Gardner and Lieske are named in the document as being believed to be owners of Intercosmos, The Producers Inc, Domain Contender and Directnic.
The suit also refers to several shell companies that Verizon alleges are operated by the three individuals including NOLDC Inc, Spiral Matrix, KenyaTech, Speedy Web, Unused Domains, and Belize Domain WHOIS Services Lt. Verizon alleges that the whois records were falsified.
Besides the overwhelming amount of identities to unwind in this case, the case may be an interesting one to watch in terms of jurisdictional issues as DirectNic Ltd is an offshore based company and other defendant companies and individuals are based in separate jurisdictions. Verizon claims in the filing that the jurisdiction is correct because the companies “conducted systematic and continuous business within Florida as a consolidated group of companies that operate the registrar that uses the domain name directNic.com”
Verizon is seeking the maximum penalties in this case of $100,000 per domain infringement, making the grand total $28,800,000. Verizon is also asking the court to force the companies to disgorge all profits made from the infringing domains. In addition Verizon has filed a few interesting exhibits which detail hundreds of other domains that the defendants have registered alleging them to be “serial cybersquatters” possibly opening up the door for more cases like this for the defendants.
Update: An important part of this case I skimmed over in reading the 32 page filing and Andrew points out at DNW is that these “infringing domains” were names that the company took over and monetized after the domains expiration. They were listed as the registrant for the period between when the domain names expired and were deleted. As Andrew points out the case “could have ramifications for most major domain name registrars and their expired domain parking practices, let alone “coming soon” placeholder pages”
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