Many of the domain names were subsequently sold.
15 domain names beginning with “go” have allegedly been stolen and many of them have been resold — creating a complicated issue now in the courts.
Scott Petretta registered the domain names about two decades ago as part of his business Multi-Force Corporation. The names include popular keywords preceded by “Go”, such as GoCars.com, GoParts.com, and GoSales.com. Petretta apparently discovered they were stolen sometime late last year or early this year.
Unfortunately, some of them had been sold to third-parties already. Domain investors purchased some of the domains, but at least one was purchased by an end user.
Petretta filed an in rem lawsuit to get the domains back, but there’s a wrinkle. Before he filed his suit, the end user that bought GoParts.com sued Petretta (pdf) alleging cybersquatting with the domain.
Go-Parts, which was incorporated in 2013, has long coveted the GoParts.com domain name. Its lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to Petretta in 2015. That letter argued that “… By law, a domain name owner is not entitled to profit in any amount from the sale of a domain name…” (emphasis in original) and threatened that Petretta was liable to pay at least $175,000.
Go-Parts does not appear to have acted on its threats, perhaps because it knew its trademark rights postdated Petretta’s registration of the domain name.
But the company then thought it bought the domain name in October 2019. It popped up for sale at GoDaddy for $4,900 and the company paid for the domain. This probably seemed like an incredible stroke of luck for the company given that it says Petretta previously asked for $100,00 for the domain.
In February, GoDaddy notified Go-Parts that it was canceling the transaction because Petretta’s attorney, David Weslow of Wiley Rein, notified it that they were filing a lawsuit to recover the domain names.
On August 11, Go-Parts’ (new) attorneys filed a lawsuit (pdf) against Petretta. The lawsuit appears to be dead on arrival because it admits that Petretta owned the domain name before it was in business. Its lawsuit makes arguments including that Petretta bought the domain “with the sole or primary intent to sell or license it later to a third party who was or would be using it for an actual business.”
There’s another odd wrinkle to this mess. I checked the Whois record for GoParts.com this morning and it shows that the owner is in California, where Go-Parts is located. Petretta is in New Jersey. (GoDaddy’s obscured whois records do not show the registrant name.) And GoParts.com still forwards to Go-Parts’ website at Go-Parts.com. So if GoDaddy canceled the transaction, who did it return the domain name to?
The situation is unfortunate for everyone involved, save for the thief. Assuming the allegations of theft are true, then the other parties bought hot domains.
David Michaels says
The Parts Dynasty ACPA claim seems to be a reverse domain hijacking claim because goparts .com was registered in 2001 and paragraphs 8 and 18 of the complaint reads:
OVERVIEW OF PLAINTIFF GO-PARTS AND ITS ACTIVITIES
8. Plaintiff GO-PARTS is a nationwide distributor of automotive parts
and was incorporated under the laws of the State of California on or about October 3, 2013, with its headquarters in California.
18. Plaintiff is informed and believes that on or about 1994, Defendant
Scott Petretta purchased the domain name “goparts.com” (hereinafter the “domain name” or “GOPARTS”), with the sole or primary intent to sell or license it later to a third party who was or would be using it for an actual business, and without any intent to use the domain name itself, or any actual use of GOPARTS
Case 2:20-cv-01602-TLN-KJN Document 1 Filed 08/11/20 Page 5 of 20
john berryhill says
It’s interesting that GoDaddy refunded Go-Parts four months after they bought the name, but left all of the other buyers high and dry.
“… By law, a domain name owner is not entitled to profit in any amount from the sale of a domain name…”
Does anyone know to what law these attorneys were referring?
Was there an anti-capitalism law passed by Congress in 1996 that I missed or something?
John Berryhill says
“Does anyone know to what law these attorneys were referring?”
They are referring to the Can I Have Some of What You’re Vaping Act of 2019.