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20 Apr 2004
Sex.com Settles VeriSign Lawsuit
Web host industry review

Adult Internet company Sex.com announced on Tuesday that it had reached a final settlement in its six-year legal action against VeriSign for the alleged mishandling of the Sex.com domain by VeriSign's Network Solutions brand.

Sex.com did not specify the terms of the settlement in its announcement.

According to Sex.com, the companies settled the suit after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held VeriSign responsible for mishandling the extremely valuable domain name, a decision that Sex.com says holds far-reaching implications in matters of the Internet, governance and intellectual property. The company said its case, in particular, was responsible for domain names being recognized as property.

The lawsuit was the result of a now-famous dispute that occurred in October of 1995 when Stephen Michael Cohen supposedly sent a forged letter to VeriSign requesting the transfer of the Sex.com domain from its owner, Sex.com CEO Gary Kremen.

Cohen was given control of the domain, and it took years for Kremen to regain control through the courts. Kremen was awarded a $65 million settlement from Cohen for the misappropriation of the name, a decision that the Supreme Court refused to overturn in 2003.

According to Sex.com, it now appears that, while it was believed that the request was made through a forged letter, Cohen may have simply asked for the domain over the phone, and been granted it immediately with no effort made to verify any connection to Sex.com.

"It was already damaging that VeriSign had taken my domain name away from me without my permission, and refused to give it back when shown proof that it was stolen," said Kremen. "I'm ecstatic that we have reached a settlement so we can put the case behind us and find peace in knowing that the Ninth Circuit's opinion in the Sex.Com case will have an influential role in holding Internet registrars responsible for mishandling their customer's domain name properties."

 

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