RealTime IT News

Optima Sues VeriSign Over URL Transfer

In a bold move against cyber-trickery of all kinds, Irvine, Calif.-based software vendor Optima Technology Monday filed a lawsuit against domain registrar Network Solutions, alleging that the VeriSign subsidiary transferred ownership of the URL www.optimatech.com without permission from its rightful owner.

The lawsuit, filed in Orange County Circuit Court, seeks $3 million in damages, and alleges that Network Solutions committed the gaffe in 2001 after former Optima employee Michael Decorte duped the Internet registrar with a letter requesting the switch.

This is not the first time Network Solutions has been at the center of a battle over Internet domains. Earlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ended a six-year legal fight over the URL www.sex.com when it upheld a $65 million reward in a case that alleged the company was duped into transferring ownership of the domain without the owner's consent.

Officials at VeriSign, based in Mountain View, Calif., declined comment on the pending litigation. At Optima, however, executives were overflowing with opinions on what they saw as a clear-cut case.

"This is no different than parking your car with the valet, giving your key to the valet attendant and coming out after a wonderful dinner, only to find your car was stolen as the valet gave your keys to a crook without checking to see if you authorized the theft," President Barry Eisler said in a prepared statement. "We are taking this action now, after notifying Network Solutions on several occasions that its actions caused our company a great deal of damage and lost revenue."

As the statement explained, Optima is seeking damages commensurate with the amount of money company officials feel they lost during the period of time that Decorte owned the URL. While it was uncertain at this point when, exactly, ownership was transferred, a legal brief prepared on behalf of Optima by attorneys from Green & Adams LLP indicated that Network Solutions granted Decorte ownership sometime in 2001. Optima did not become aware of the transfer until later that year, and did not regain full control of the site until 2002.

Optima first registered www.optimatech.com with Network Solutions at the end of 1990. According to WHOIS, the registrar's database of domain registration information, ownership of the URL was most recently renewed on May 10, 2002, and does not expire again until May 10, 2012.

The Network Solutions lawsuit won't be the only legal action Optima takes in the next few weeks. Optima spokesperson Jack Geering told internetnews.com the company plans to file more than 45 lawsuits over the next few months against who are in violation of one of the company's key patents. More immediately, the company is preparing to file a second lawsuit next week against the INSCO/DICO Group in Irvine, Calif., which they claim has unlawfully owned the URL www.optimatechnology.comsince 1997.

Officials at INSCO/DICO said they were unaware of the impending lawsuit, and declined to comment further on the issue.