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Scratch.org update and subpoenas

Here’s why domain investors got subpoena notices from Enom.

Picture of Subpoena document

There’s been a lot of talk in domain circles today about subpoena notices for domains at Enom.

The subpoena stems from a lawsuit that Scratch Foundation, a non-profit created at MIT, filed against the domain name Scratch.org.

Scratch Foundation filed the case as in rem (meaning against the domain), but Ravi Lahoti stepped forward as the owner. Lahoti says he’s owned the domain name since 1998. DomainTools historical Whois records seem to corroborate his story, at least until Scratch Foundation was formed, although the domain has bounced around different entities/privacy services.

This brings us to the subpoena, which you can view here (pdf). Attorney David Weslow, who is representing Scratch Foundation, asked Enom for a list of Lahoti’s domains. The original subpoena was quite a bit broader than that, but these things are often narrowed between the lawyer and recipient. Regardless, Enom has apparently notified anyone who owns a domain that was at any point tied to Lahoti.

It seems that Weslow is trying to paint Lahoti as a serial cybersquatter.

Indeed, in a recent order (pdf), the judge wrote “Plaintiff has also brought various other anticybersquatting cases against Mr. Lahoti to the Court’s attention which demonstrate that Mr.
Lahoti is a notorious cybersquatter.”

Whether or not Lahoti is a notorious cybersquatter shouldn’t matter on the claim under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act so long as Lahoti proves that he owned the domain before Scratch Foundation had rights in the mark. This seems like it will be easy to do.

But there’s an interesting wrinkle in the lawsuit: it also claims trademark infringement. Should Scratch Foundation show that prior ads on Scratch.org infringed on its trademarks, could it win a judgment against the domain? I’m not familiar with how a judgment for trademark infringement works in an in rem case. But it’s clear that the trademark infringement claim is part of the effort to get control of the domain.

There’s a lesson here involving in rem lawsuits. Lahoti asked the court to name Lahoti as the defendant instead of in rem. This might make it easier to defend but also opens him up to personal liability. The court denied this request on the basis that Lahoti didn’t object early enough to in rem jurisdiction.

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Verisign thwarts cyberattack by taking down typo domain name

Court grants temporary restraining order against domain mimicking VerisignDNS.com.

Image of man in black hoodie on black background with the word cybersecurity

Verisign (NASDAQ: VRSN), the registry for .com domain names, has successfully taken down the domain name VerisignNNS.com, which it says was about to be used in a cyber attack on internet infrastructure.

A court granted a temporary restraining order against the unknown owner of the domain and granted Verisign the ability to put the domain in registry hold status, meaning it cannot be used.

The company said that the domain was created to deceive users who would otherwise visit or VerisignDNS.com or communicate via email, the domain name for Verisign managed DNS services that are currently being transitioned to Neustar.

Its court filing was originally made under seal and much of it is redacted. However, the unredacted portion references DNSpionage and man-in-the-middle attacks.

Verisign suspects Russian hackers are behind the domain name registration.

The lawsuit is here (pdf).

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact copyright (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

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