Insurance giant sues domain registrar, but red flags abound.
Insurance company Transamerica has filed a lawsuit against Moniker, Oversee.net, and multiple John Does in United States District Court in the Southern District of Florida. The suit alleges that Moniker registered domain names including the Transamerica trademark and used these to profit for pay-per-click and pay-per-lead programs.
Transamerica did not provide proof linking Moniker directly to any of the domain names’ registrants, but alleges that many of the domains’ registrants were fictitious. It claims that Moniker is the owner of some of the domains, and that others may be owned by Moniker customers with which the company colluded to hide their identity. It also claims “In some cases Moniker registers domain names in the name of real individuals who are unaware they are being used by Defendants as ‘dummies’.”
The lawsuit doesn’t appear to offer proof of these connections, instead relying on a pattern of alleged abuses undertaken by individuals and companies with inaccurate contact information. But the case includes a number of claims that seem dubious at best, which raises some red flags about these claims.
For example, the suit claims “On information and belief, the majority or substantial entirety of Internet domain names registered by Moniker are owned in the name of fictitious, anonymous, and unaccountable individuals and entities” and “On information and belief, the majority or substantial entirety of Moniker’s income is derived from the registration of counterfeit domain names in the name of fictitious, anonymous and unaccountable individuals and entities.” The lawsuit later goes further, alleging “..Moniker owns and uses more than 2.5 million domain names in the manner alleged in this Complaint”, which is clearly inaccurate.
As part of its proof that Moniker owns many of these domains, Transamerica suggests that the unconfirmed sale price of Moniker to Oversee.net was unjustified:
The $70 million price tag for the sale of Moniker’s business to Oversee.net reflects an astounding volume of profits in comparison to the absence of capital investment or other apparent expenses in Moniker’s business and the low overhead revealed by a small and unmarked office in Pompano Beach where Moniker is or was located with a total of around 18 employees.
I find it difficult to believe that Transamerica’s lawyers took the time to count the number of Transamerica references on a single web site allegedly part of the scheme (1,307), but didn’t discover that, prior to the sale to Oversee.net, Moniker had already been sold to Seevast and had recently concluded a one day auction selling over $10 million in domain names.
Transamerica is throwing in the kitchen sink to its claims against Moniker, citing counterfeiting, RICO violations, wire fraud, and cybersquatting. Domain Name Wire will keep you posted on any further developments in the case.
(Lawsuit PDF, large file)