There has been an update in the Kentucky domain name seizure case and its not a good one.
This week the original judge in the matter issued another forfeiture order on 132 domain names, this time not directed just to the registrars but to the registry, Verisign.
You might remember in the original case, the Judge ordered the registrars, not the registry, to turn the domain names over to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
For the record, the Kentucky Domain Name Seizure case is now 3 1/2 years old as the original seize order came on September 22, 2008.
In the original order there were 141 domain names.
9 of the domain names included in the list of 141 domain has since been seized by the Federal Government since the Kentucky case was filed.
These domains are FullTiltPoker.com, PokerStars.com, AbsolutePoker.com, UltimateBet.com, DoylesRoom.com, TruePoker.com, Bookmaker.com and Bodog.com.
As to the remaining 132 domain names On March 8, 2012, Wingate ordered and adjudged:
“”1. The Court finds as fact that no party made any attempt to prove to the court that they installed and implemented software or devices to geographically block users from inside the Commonwealth of Kentucky from their “illegal, unregulated internet gambling websites”.
2. The Court previously heard evidence from the Commonwealth and determined that probable cause existed to justify the seizure of the domain defendants.
3. Seizures of the property in rem constitutes notice to any persons that may lay claim to their interest.
4. No party has appeared with standing to contest the forfeiture or submit evidence.]
5. The Court finds that no lawful owner or claimant of the domain defendants has been identified or is identifiable.
6. The Court finds that evidence presented by the Commonwealth does establish by a preponderance of the evidence, “indeed by overwhelming evidence”, that the domain defendants are gambling devices and gambling records in violation of Kentucky statutes and therefore can be forfeited.
7. While the Court considers amendments to the Kentucky statutes that define said “devices”, the court believes that those definitions are only a broad definition and determines that the intent can and does include a domain name.
8. The Court re-adopts and incorporates its previous conclusions of law and holdings contained in it’s original order of seizure, September 2008 Exhibit B; it’s findings of fact and conclusions of law, September 2008 Exhibit C; and Opinion and Order, October 2008, Exhibit D.
9. The Domain Defendants, Exhibit A, are hereby forfeited to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
10. Plaintiff shall serve to both VeriSign and each Domain registrar a copy of this order.
11. VeriSign and each registrar shall immediately transfer ownership of each domain defendant to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The domain names must be unlocked and unencumbered for Plantiff’s use, transfer or direction so that disposition by the Plaintiff may proceed in accordance with KRS 500.090.
12. VeriSign and the registrars are ordered to direct each domain to the IP address or addresses as will be directed by the Plaintiff or its counsel.””
Although the Franklin Circuit Court entered the above order on March 8, there has been a pending appeal already filed with the Kentucky Court of Appeals since November 2011, with appellate briefs due on April 24, 2012.
You might remember that the Kentucky Court of Appeals overturned the original seizure order finding that domain names were not “gambling Devices” within the meaning of the statue. However the Judge is simply ignoring that ruling by simply saying in number 7 above, “While the Court considers amendments to the Kentucky statutes that define said “devices”, the court believes that those definitions are only a broad definition and determines that the intent can and does include a domain name.”
Since the original order back in 2008, as we all know, the Federal Government through Homeland Security and other agencies, have seized over 1,000 domain names, however this action remains the only one where a state has ordered the seizure of domain names.