The Ninth Circuit has held that VeriSign can be held legally responsible for giving away your domain name to someone other than the rightful owner.
"Exposing Network Solutions to liability when it gives away a registrant's domain name on the basis of a forged letter is no different from holding a corporation liable when it gives away someone's share...
We must, of course, take the broader view, but there is nothing unfair about holding a company responsible for giving away someone elseís property even if it was not at fault. Cohen is obviously the guilty party here, and the one who should in all fairness pay for his theft. But heís skipped the country, and his money is stashed in some offshore bank account. Unless Kremenís luck with his bounty hunters improves, Cohen is out of the picture. The question becomes whether Network Solutions should be open to liability for its decision to hand over Kremenís domain name. Negligent or not, it was Network Solutions that gave away Kremenís property. Kremen never did anything. It would not be unfair to hold Network Solutions responsible and force it to try to recoup its losses by chasing down Cohen. This, at any rate, is the logic of the common law, and we do not lightly discard it.
The common law does not stand idle while people give away the property of others.
Although the case turned on a particular question of California law (whether intangible property such as a domain name can be the subject of "conversion," which is basically a wrongful disposal) it would seem tohave application far beyond California borders. This means that anyone who has suffered at the hands of VeriSign's incompetence may be able to recover damages for domain names they have lost.
The opinion is online in PDF.Posted by wasylik at July 27, 2003 05:22 PM | TrackBack