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Bodog fights for new law

28 Nov 2007

ST. JOHN'S, Antigua -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- In order to have BODOG trademark-bearing domain names returned from seizure, lawyers for defendant Bodog Entertainment Group, S.A. in the ongoing litigation against 1st Technology, LLC (1st Technology, LLC v. Bodog Entertainment Group, S.A ., Superior Court for State of Washington, County of King, Case No. 07-2-25305-0 SEA) are trying to make a new law in the state of Washington.

On Nov. 13, Bodog Entertainment Group, S.A. (which is NOT the operator of BODOG online entertainment businesses or domain names) filed a key motion in Washington state court, where 1st Technology, LLC obtained seizure of numerous domain names incorporating the BODOG and related trademarks asking the court to answer a question which had not yet been answered in Washington law: Are Internet domain names considered "property" that can be subject to seizure to collect on a judgment? For Bodog Entertainment Group, S.A., the answer is a resounding "No."

Specifically, Bodog Entertainment Group filed a motion to have the Washington court reconsider its prior ruling granting a writ of execution which permitted 1st Technology LLC to seize thousands of Internet domain names, including domain names that incorporated BODOG trademarks. Through its lawyers, Bodog Entertainment Group, S.A. points out that there is no previously established case law in the state of Washington which specifically permits Internet domain names to be seized or finds that domain names are "property" that can be seized under Washington law.

Defense team lawyer James Nguyen, an entertainment, intellectual property and Internet law specialist at Foley & Lardner LLP, explains, "This is a new legal issue triggered by the emergence of Internet technology." Because there are no current legal decisions in Washington about this important issue, the defending legal team is asking the Washington judge to look to established law in the state of Virginia, which holds that domain names should not be subject to seizure. The state of Virginia is an appropriate jurisdiction for legal reference, because the second largest domain name registrar in North America, Network Solutions, is located in Virginia. Virginia courts thus have considerable experience with Internet domain name legal issues.

Furthermore, Nguyen points out that "in a number of jurisdictions, trademarks are not considered assets that are subject to seizure." Likewise, Bodog Entertainment Group, S.A.'s legal team argues that domain names which incorporate the BODOG and related trademarks cannot be transferred, because those domain names could not be used by a third party (such as anyone who might purchase the domain name through an Internet auction) without infringing on BODOG trademarks. As Bodog Entertainment Group, S.A.'s motion argues, "If a court does not have the power to permit seizure of trademarks, it likewise should not have the power to seize or transfer domain names which contain those trademarks."

This issue potentially has far-reaching consequences. A decision in favor of Bodog Entertainment Group, S.A. would benefit trademark and domain name owners all across cyberspace.

"The company in court from whom our domains were seized has never done any business in the U.S. nor was aware of being served or that a subsequent default judgment had been issued in their absence. The company is now a defunct ex-supplier of data entry and domain management services to Bodog. Bodog is still and has always been the beneficiary of the BODOG domain names. We are confident that the defendant's legal team can articulate these facts in addition to convincing the Washington judge to take consideration of established Virginia law with regards to domain names. This is a groundbreaking case in the muddy waters of Internet law, and we are confident that we have many aspects in our favor to potentially solidify some clarity on this issue and have our domains returned to us," said Bodog Founder Calvin Ayre.

The motion was filed on Nov. 13 in the case 1st Technology, LLC v. Bodog Entertainment Group, S.A., Superior Court for State of Washington, County of King, Case No. 07-2-25305-0 SEA, and is currently under consideration before the Honorable John Erlick.

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