Domain registration giant VeriSign has missed a deadline to ask a federal appeals court to reconsider a landmark decision in the Sex.com case, which established that Internet domain names are subject to state property law.
Last month, Gary Kremen, rightful owner of the Sex.com domain name, won the right to sue VeriSign-subsidiary Network Solutions (NSI), the registrar duped into transferring the lucrative domain to a convicted felon, Stephen Cohen.
The ruling is the latest in a string of judgements in the closely watched case, which traces its roots back to NSI's transfer of ownership for Sex.com from Kremen to Cohen 1995. This unauthorised transfer was obtained using forged letters. The case against NSI is that it switched domain name registry records without bothering to check the veracity of these documents.
Under appellate procedural rules, VeriSign had until 8 August to ask the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse its 25 July ruling that revived the case and sent it back to a lower court for trial. The deadline came and went without a court filing by VeriSign, according to Kremen's lawyers, Kerr & Wagstaffe, who said this virtually assures the case will go to trial.
VeriSign still has the right to take the Sex.Com case to the US Supreme Court, but America's highest court is extremely unlikely to weigh in on the state law issues on which the Ninth Circuit based its decision.
The Supreme Court previously rejected the separate appeal of Sex.Com conman turned fugitive Cohen. His appeals exhausted, Cohen faces the full brunt of the $65 million award against him and in favour of Sex.Com's owner, Kremen.
Meanwhile, VeriSign faces a trial to determine its portion of the responsibility for Kremen's losses. A retrial is expected to begin later this year.