Domain Fight: iMEGA Petitions to Block Kentucky Court
Oct. 22, 2008 - iMEGA petitioned the Kentucky Court of Appeals for a writ of mandamus, to block a lower court’s decision allowing Kentucky to seize 141 domain names. Kentucky’s lawyers have sought these domain names, all related to Internet gaming and advertising, in an effort to protect Kentucky’s own in-state gambling operations from competition, and to extract tens of millions of dollars in penalties from the domain registrants.
“Since the lower court elected to ignore Kentucky law, and instead reached back to a law the current one supplanted to find a rationale justifying these seizures, we have no choice but to go to the Court of Appeals, ” said Joe Brennan Jr., iMEGA chairman and CEO. “This errant ruling affects far more than Kentucky and the domain names currently at risk. If this is allowed to stand, you’ll see other actions like this, targeting other segments of Internet media, at the state and local level, both here and abroad.”
iMEGA has asked the Court of Appeals to intercede due to the lower court’s lack of jurisdiction over the domain names, as none of the names are owned by Kentucky residents, or managed by in-state domain registrars. iMEGA also asked the court to consider the serious constitutional violations by the lower court.
iMEGA’s lawyers included specific grounds for the higher court to intercede, including the misapplication of Kentucky’s own “gambling devices” statute to include domain names; that there is no basis for civil forfeiture in the Kentucky statute, which is a criminal statute; and that Justice and Public Safety Secretary J. Michael Brown lacked the authority to bring this action, instead of the commonwealth’s attorney-general.
iMEGA’s lawyers also outlined the lower court’s constitutional violations, including threatening free speech, by allowing Kentucky to, in essence, seize words, and prevent the domain registrants or private citizens from using them; violating the commerce clause by acting to protect Kentucky’s in-state industries and block competing out-of-state industries; and violating due process in allowing Kentucky to initiate the seizure action against the domain registrants in a secret court preceeding, the records of which were sealed from the public, and not providing any notice of the action to the registrants, even after the judge had ruled their domain names forfeit to the state.