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OnlineNIC says it’s shutting down because of Facebook lawsuit

Registrar tells court it is ceasing business next week.

Image of Facebook with the words "Facebook Lawsuit" superimposed

ICANN-accredited domain name registrar OnlineNIC says it’s shutting down on July 26 after throwing in the towel in a lawsuit.

[See update, including new shutdown date.]

Facebook sued the registrar and its privacy service in October 2019, alleging that either OnlineNIC or its customers used domains such as www-facebook-login(.)com and login-lnstargram(.)com.

The social media company recently filed an unopposed motion for default judgment in the case. OnlineNIC told the court that it doesn’t have the funds to continue defending the case and will cease doing business on July 26, subject to any ICANN requirements.

Attorneys for Facebook say that OnlineNIC is trying to avoid paying the judgment. Its attorneys also filed for a Temporary Restraining Order (pdf), alleging that OnlineNIC is transferring some of its domain name assets (pdf) to another registrar. (When I looked up the same domains Wednesday evening, they showed they are now locked and not pending transfer.)

According to the most recent Verisign report filed with ICANN, OnlineNIC has many domains under management. It had over 500,000 .com domains at the end of March. It’s not clear how many of these are customers’ domains.

Update: on July 22, attorneys for OnlineNIC said they intend to fight the TRO. It said it indeed was transferring some domains to Ename, but with a goal of selling them to help pay the fees it owes the Special Master in the case. The attorney also mentioned a previous plan it had proffered to Facebook that would allow the company to be sold as a going concern to generate cash to settle the judgment. You can read OnlineNIC’s response here (pdf).

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Reader Interactions

Comments

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  1. Samer says

    Mess with Facebook, get the horns.

    Nice reporting, Andrew, Not a Facebook fan but this is my favorite piece you’ve written!

    Samer

  2. Dave Lahoti says

    Sorry, but I think FaceBook took this too far.

    They were just the registrar…they are supposed to be shielded from being liable for content, right?

    If FaceBook has any shame, they should back off and allow OnlineNIC to live their livelihood.

        • Andrew Allemann says

          Well, here’s the first paragraph from the motion for sanctions and default that OnlineNIC is not opposing:

          The Special Master appointed in this case has found that Defendants OnlineNIC, Inc.
          (“OnlineNIC”) and Domain ID Shield Service Company, Ltd. (“ID Shield”) (collectively, “Defendants”)
          have intentionally destroyed and obfuscated key evidence, failed to preserve and produce responsive ESI,
          and disobeyed the Court’s order appointing the Special Master. Special Discovery Master’s Data
          Destroyed Or Withheld Report (“Report”) at 39-40 (ECF No. 115). Such conduct merits terminating
          sanctions.

          • Dave Lahoti says

            Well, it’s looking like their not able to deflect this unfair bullying.

            In other words, FaceBook is trying to pull a “Weslow”.

    • snoopy1267 says

      These two companies are cut from the same cloth, they probably should have merged instead of having a lawsuit. Zuck and OnlineNIC could have shared their “business strategies”.

  3. anjanbhushan says

    When I contacted onlinenic support and send them link of this news, They replied following.
    “Dear Partner,

    Thanks for contacting OnlineNic!

    Actually we have made reconciliation with Facebook .Onlinenic still will act as a ICANN-accredited for a long time .you can keep on staying with onlinenic always.

    Should you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us.”

  4. tckmedia says

    Registrars should be more proactive in flagging potential trademark violations. At least have them manually reviewed in case of false positives. It would make sense for the two companies to settle out of court. FB doesn’t win any compensation if ONIC is forced to take the bankruptcy route and close its doors.

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