Did Stands4 buy a hot domain?
A dispute over the domain name Calculator.com is getting messy, and I calculate that someone is going to lose a lot of money.
Chloe Tsakiris Alston filed a lawsuit in Florida court after discovering that the Calculator.com domain name was no longer in her control. She says that she and her father are the original registrants of the domain.
The judge in the case approved a Temporary Restraining Order to transfer the domain name back to Alston’s domain name registrar.
Now the “current” owner of the domain is fighting back, saying that it bought the domain from Alston.
Stands4 LTD, which operates Grammar.com, Lyrics.com and Scripts.com, says (pdf) that it bought the domain from Alston for $180,000 last month through DAN.com. The company says that DAN.com reviewed Alston’s passport and utility bill and compared this information against Whois before approving the transaction.
The company then spent $50,000 launching a new site on Calculator.com.
Alston disputes (pdf) that she agreed to sell the domain name.
There’s certainly something weird going on. The seller agreement from when the domain “sold” on Sedo listed another party, which raises alarm bells. And it doesn’t make sense that Alston would sue after selling the domain.
Which is all to say that this case is going to get messy. It certainly doesn’t seem that a Temporary Restraining Order makes sense. (Stands4 is asking the court to reverse it.)
I also don’t see how the case will remain in Florida. The initial filing there didn’t make sense; none of the parties are based there. The only reason I can see for it being filed in Florida is that the Plaintiff hired an attorney there who successfully got a stolen domain back for another company through a Temporary Restraining Order.
Alston’s lawyers made a somewhat amusing argument for keeping the case there, including that ads on Stands4’s website are geo-targeted to visitors from Florida…when someone visits from Florida.
David Weslow of Wiley Rein is working with a Florida attorney on behalf of Stands4.