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"GO" Domains in "inRem" Litigation - What r my options?

Labeled as question in Legal Discussion, started by GoWebnames.com, Sep 28, 2020

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  1. GoWebnames.com

    GoWebnames.com Truth alone triumphs VIP

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    I and few other members here acquired some GO keyword domains at GoDaddy Auctions in 2019 [GoGames.com etc.] The owner, as per the WHOIS, was one SCOTT PETRETTA who was negotiating with me on his email listed on the original WHOIS. Immediately after my $4720 payment to GoDaddy [for GoGames.com], he started claiming that he had been hacked. These domains were transferred to GoDaddy about 2 months prior to being sold there. Then, upon complainant's request, GoDaddy did lock down the domains but subsequently released them after their investigation after which I transferred them over to Epik. Now the previous owner has filed an inRem litigation in the Court of Virginia for all these 16 domains (inRem is basically where the court decides the ownership of an asset under its jurisdiction as a property). I strongly believe that the litigant SCOTT PETRETTA has done this on purpose, first selling all these 16 domains and playing innocent afterwards.

    Upon the receipt of court filing last month, Epik has locked them down and I want to evaluate my options for a defense. All documents attached, about 2 more weeks are left for publishing of notice.

    1) What are the chances of an award to litigant in this case? This is 16 domains we are talking about.

    2) What would be the fees if we engage a lawyer to fight it?

    3) Is it possible to file a reply by email to this court in Virginia?

    4) In case of an award to the litigant, can we ask GoDaddy for refund?? They were informed by me the very next day, to cancel the assured transaction, when I got the previous owner's email. @Joe Styler @Paul Nicks may want to reply on this.


    Some good timely advice would be helpful. It would be good to hear from you too John @jberryhill
    CourtFiling.png

    Please feel free to tag anyone who may be of help.
     

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  2. Joe Styler

    Joe Styler Aftermarket Product Manager GoDaddy Staff Afternic Staff PRO VIP

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    I am sorry but we can't comment on anything to do with legal matters like this.
     
  3. Samer

    Samer Top Contributor VIP

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    But he provide proof. This is scary, Joe.

    Love to know; Will be following this thread.

    Good luck, praying for you.

    Samer
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2020
  4. jberryhill

    jberryhill Top Member John Berryhill, Ph.d., Esq. PRO VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    And I strongly believe that the litigant SCOTT PETRETTA and his lawyer are as capable of reading what you post to a public internet forum as anyone else.

    That fact alone makes an internet forum website a very poor choice to discuss one's legal issues, as opposed to getting in contact with an attorney for a confidential consultation which, unlike an internet forum website, the other side is not going to be eavesdropping on your conversation with that attorney.

    Confidentiality is one of the things to which a person seeking legal advice from an attorney is entitled. Another thing to which such a person is entitled is that such communications with an attorney are not only confidential, but they are privileged from disclosure to the other side.

    An internet forum is the polar opposite of what you obtain in an actual consultation with an attorney.

    Well, that's not exactly true in this case, since GoDaddy already intervened in Act I of this particular circus.

    The lawsuit mentioned in the OP is the second of two lawsuits relating to some odd goings-on among Mr. Petretta's domain names.

    The first lawsuit in this conga line was filed back in August in California as:

    [​IMG]


    Long story short - Petretta has long held goparts.com, these people claim that their junior trademark in "GO PARTS" entitles them to the domain name, and they've been bothering Petretta about it for a while.

    And then, lo and behold....

    https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.caed.377231/gov.uscourts.caed.377231.1.0.pdf

    34. In order to avoid a legal dispute and in an exercise of extreme caution, Plaintiff has attempted to purchase the domain name from Defendant despite Defendant’s failure to use such name and lack of any rights to it. However, Defendant illegally demanded $100,000 from Plaintiff in order to sell the domain name to Plaintiff, its rightful owner.

    35. On or about November 11, 2015, Plaintiff sent Defendant a cease and desist letter regarding Defendant’s use or potential use of the domain name, a true and correct copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit 6.

    36. Plaintiff is informed and believes that in response to the cease and desist letter, Defendant has not used either the “Go-Parts” name or the domain name at least since that date, and Defendant has abandoned use of the domain name and use of it on its former website.

    37. In or about October 2019, Plaintiff learned that the domain name GOPARTS was available and purchased the domain name from GoDaddy, a large company which helps people and businesses register domain names, and presumably obtained rights to sell it from GOPARTS’ failing to continue to pay the continuing fees to maintain ownership, or expressly cancelling it, and without any intervention by GO-PARTS. A true and correct copy of a receipt from GoDaddy for the $4900 paid by Plaintiff is attached hereto as Exhibit 7, dated October 28, 2019.

    38. On or about February 13, 2020, Plaintiff received a refund of the money it had paid to GoDaddy to purchase the GOPARTS domain name, with no explanation as to why GoDaddy was attempting to cancel the purchase of Plaintiff had no choice as to the receipt of the purchase price refund, $4900, as it was simply deposited back into Plaintiff’s account.

    39. On or about February 21, 2020, Plaintiff received a demand letter from GOPARTS’ attorney threatening a legal action in the United States District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia over Plaintiff’s use or ownership of the GOPARTS domain name, and falsely asserting that Defendant was the “lawful owner” of the GOPARTS domain name. A true and correct copy of that letter is attached hereto as Exhibit 8.

    40. In response to Plaintiff’s request for a reason for this “refund” of the purchase price, which GO-PARTS did not request or desire, GoDaddy sent a letter to Plaintiff explaining why it had sent Plaintiff a refund, attaching a copy of the Exhibit 9 notice of intent to proceed with a lawsuit from GOPARTS’ attorneys, and saying, “This is why we cancelled and refunded the transaction, rather than having you in a legal dispute over the name. ” A true and correct copy of the February 24, 2020 email from GoDaddy labeled as “Here’s our response to your request,” is attached hereto as Exhibit 9.

    41. GoDaddy continues to be the registrar of the domain name GO-PARTS. Plaintiff intends to write to GoDaddy notifying it that Plaintiff does not accept the cancellation of the purchase of the GOPARTS domain name, and attempting to return the purchase price refund to GoDaddy.


    --------------------------------------

    That email from GoDaddy is here:

    Screen Shot 2020-09-29 at 5.28.46 PM.png


    So, let's be really clear here. GoDaddy certainly has commented on the situation, and they have refunded ONE AND ONLY ONE of the purchasers of these domain names. GoDaddy rescinded that sale FOUR MONTHS after the purchase.

    The real question is why did GoDaddy refund one of the purchasers, but not the other purchasers.

    GoDaddy was informed these names were stolen in late February, and they refunded one of the purchasers. It turns out the purchaser they picked didn't want the refund, for their own reasons.

    If you bought a name after that time, or if GoDaddy didn't provide you with comparable service, then you are left to wonder why.

    Of course, immediately after late February, all sorts of plans were delayed, so it appears that Petretta didn't get around to filing until more recently, no doubt spurred by the filing against him in California.

    However, your notion that Petretta would have sold the names, pocketed a few thousand dollars, and then hired the astronomically-expensive David Weslow to chase them down - all while himself being a cybersquatting defendant in California and potentially exposing himself to legal peril for an outright fraud - is a little difficult to believe. In the first place, he's going to spend much more money on litigating than these names sold for in the aggregate, and that includes whatever he ends up spending on his defense in the first-filed suit in California.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2020
  5. jberryhill

    jberryhill Top Member John Berryhill, Ph.d., Esq. PRO VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Short answer - GoDaddy already refunded one of the purchasers, and they didn't even ask.

    GoDaddy doesn't like you as much. But since @Joe Styler wasn't going to tell you that truth, I thought you should at least be informed that GoDaddy has already refunded one of the other people who bought one of the names in that lawsuit.

    But you, on the other hand, can go stuff it as far as GoDaddy is concerned.

    It's obvious that GoDaddy knew about all of the names, and they made a calculation about who was worth refunding and who wasn't. You didn't make the cut. Better luck next time. No refund for you.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2020
  6. ecomslice

    ecomslice Top Contributor VIP

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    Go daddy employees are like mechanics for a mob, honest hard work , polite and responsive usually. They are happy to provide Maintenance and repairs in between bank robberies and other hidden crimes , sometimes bodies are in the trunks but they efficiently change the shot out tires to get those autos back on the road for more.
     
  7. Riz M.

    Riz M. EmpireNames.com VIP Gold Account

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    if godaddy will be not refunding me.. i will remove my all domains from godaddy and will stop buying or selling from godaddy in future..
    not taking responisbility if we buying names through godaddy buy it now option?
    i use to buy and sell of more then million usd domains per year...
    they should consider 4000-5000 usd is nothing but they should take responsibility...
    @Joe Styler i am hoping to get this issue resolved..
    Thanks
     
  8. SuperBrander

    SuperBrander Top Contributor VIP

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    So here we are 7 months later, thanks to Covid-19. @Joe Styler As you're aware, I bought 3 additional Go + Word .com domains from Godaddy and had an extensive email correspondence with your legal team about the 19 reportedly stolen domains (16 mentioned in this lawsuit + the 3 that I bought at Godaddy). Your legal team refused to give information and kept saying that there are no current legal issues with these 19 domains. Well... now (unsurprisingly) there are. As I informed your legal team, shortly after I got the notice of intent to proceed with In Rem civil action I returned the 3 domains that I bought to Mr. Petretta.

    I, too, expect a full refund from Godaddy for the 3 domains that I bought- GoSystems.com, GoToys.com and GoEducation.com. I too spend $XX,XXX at Godaddy every year and I expect Godaddy to do the right thing for all the buyers of these reportedly stolen domains.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2020
  9. Samer

    Samer Top Contributor VIP

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    They spent half a billion in stock buybacks.

    Cant refund “stolen” DN Sold on their platform!

    What’s $xx,xxx or $x,xxx... u accept stock?
    surprised @Joe Styler GD lawyer reply;

    “No comment legal matters.” Still have my sympathy; all victims of this “Go”name case. Good luck and thank you all sharing. Following

    Samer
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2020
  10. Grilled

    Grilled Black Lives Matter VIP

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    +1 for your super activism! (y)

    https://www.namepros.com/threads/po...l-godaddy-investigate-help-so-far-no.1178506/

    https://tldinvestors.com/2020/02/be-careful-of-possibly-stolen-domain-names-starting-with-go.html
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2020
  11. SuperBrander

    SuperBrander Top Contributor VIP

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    @Joe Styler I'll just add this reminder of what you wrote in 2018:

    The million dollar question is:
    Would Godaddy take responsibility if the original scammer sold the domains through "Godaddy auction" platform instead of "undeveloped" and the (subsequent)buyer basically paid to godaddy for the "Stolen" domain??

    @Joe Styler
    Yes we do which is why you should use a platform like ours. So if you use us and sell a domain and it clears our checks we pay you. But scammers beware if you are trying to sell stolen goods on the auctions you are stealing from us and we will pursue it via other payments you have or the local authorities. We have a local presence in many countries and work with local law enforcement around the world."

    https://www.namepros.com/threads/do...sessed-by-godaddy.1111434/page-3#post-6995420
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2020
  12. jberryhill

    jberryhill Top Member John Berryhill, Ph.d., Esq. PRO VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    I loved that scene!



    [​IMG]
     
  13. SuperBrander

    SuperBrander Top Contributor VIP

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    @jberryhill The buyers and I will settle for less than ONE MILLION DOLLARS. Just a refund. BTW, to clarify- the quote I quoted discusses a sale and not a buy but the principle is the same. Transactions on the platform are supposed to be safe and if Godaddy's checks miss the mark- Godaddy needs to take responsibility and issue a refund to all innocent parties ASAP.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2020
  14. SuperBrander

    SuperBrander Top Contributor VIP

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    BTW @jberryhill, I forgot to say- thanks for the info about the person who got refunded. It looks like he bought the domain after the case was filed while myself and the other NP members bought the domains before the case was filed. At the time Godaddy just kept saying: there's no active lawsuit and the domains can be used. That difference in the timing of when the domains were purchased of course doesn't change the fact that we all deserve a refund- but considering what Joe Styler said about paying people when Godaddy's checks don't work and a stolen domain goes under the radar- perhaps Godaddy has been silent because they don't want to do anything before the lawsuit is decided. At least I hope that's the case.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2020
  15. jberryhill

    jberryhill Top Member John Berryhill, Ph.d., Esq. PRO VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    No. That is not at all what happened.

    He bought the name in October 2019, and was refunded in February 2020. The suit was filed in August 2020.

    You can easily tell this by the fact that the suit MENTIONS the refund.
     
  16. SuperBrander

    SuperBrander Top Contributor VIP

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    @jberryhill Oh! My bad. Sorry. Thanks for clarifying. I'm juggling a couple of things, got confused with the dates and haven't read everything properly. I still need to read the suit. Maybe he bought the domain after the "intent to proceed with in rem civil action" was sent and we bought the domains before the notice and that's the difference. That makes more sense, I think. Anyway... if there'll be a ruling in Mr. Petretta's favor and Godaddy still doesn't refund the rest of us... then that will speak volumes about Godaddy's stance. Time will tell.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2020
  17. jberryhill

    jberryhill Top Member John Berryhill, Ph.d., Esq. PRO VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    If you are open to helpful suggestions, might I suggest that you actually read the information instead of guessing incorrectly?

    At some point prior to October 2019, Petretta is the long-standing registrant of a portfolio of “go” names.

    Go-Parts bought the name goparts.com from GoDaddy in October 2019.

    In February 2020, Petretta’s attorney contacted GoDaddy, alerted them to 19 stolen names, and GoDaddy refunded the purchase price of goparts.com to Go-Parts. Also, GoDaddy’s email shows they knew the 19 names that were affected. Clearly, GoDaddy concluded, for some reason, that Go-Parts should receive a refund - four months after the purchase.

    It’s not entirely clear what GoDaddy did with the name after refunding the payment, because in August 2020, Go-Parts files suit to obtain the domain name. I get the impression, however, that Go-Parts and their attorney are not exactly rocket scientist material.

    Then, in September, Petretta files suit against all of the domain names in order to reclaim them.
     
  18. SuperBrander

    SuperBrander Top Contributor VIP

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    @jberryhill Thanks. 100% correct. Should have read everything first. I've been waiting since February for some sort of progress on this matter. Since I returned the domains I bought, I didn't know that this was served so seeing the news today caught me by surprise in the middle of a move to a new place and my brain is all over the place. Anyway... yeah, what you pointed out is indeed interesting and does make one wonder why one entity got a refund while others didn't.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2020
  19. Grilled

    Grilled Black Lives Matter VIP

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    https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/18484313/parts-dynasty-corp-v-petretta/
     

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    Last edited: Sep 30, 2020
  20. GoWebnames.com

    GoWebnames.com Truth alone triumphs VIP

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    Thanks John for your detailed and insightful response. I have raised this matter here in public because many parties are involved. I never had any intention of owning any stolen names. It's OK if PETRETTA and his lawyer read about it. If the domains were indeed stolen, they actually belong to the rightful owner. This is for the court to decide.

    If push comes to shove, I will file a suit here against them (GoDaddy India) to recover my money and to impose penalties on them since they sold me the domain name in question. $4720 is not a small amount to forego for no mistake of mine. More so, when I requested them to verify the seller's credentials and cancel the transaction just the day after of my purchase, upon claim of fraud by the previous owner SCOTT PETRETTA. That GoParts.com suit you highlighted should be utterly helpful.
    .
    It's such a shame @JoeStyler that you should shirk your responsibility like this. Every time something fishy at GoDaddy is raised here, more often than not, this is your standard response. Why are you then present here on this forum as a GoDaddy Rep if there is nothing you can do about these frauds at GoDaddy? Merely to pay lip service?

    As for these GO domains, you were in the know all along. Not only I discussed this in private with you here but I also mailed your support team on your advice requesting them to block the payout and to investigate and to cancel the transaction if it's a stolen domain. Screenshot attached to jog your memory.

    GG1.png


    Also, how come you refunded the buyer of GoParts.com without them even asking you so? Only because you are fearful of them. Because you knew that they are a company located in the United States and that they are capable of inflicting heavy monetary damage on you through litigation. We can do that too here in India as well since my seller for this domain [GoGames.com] is essentially your Indian arm, GoDaddy India Pvt. Ltd. But if you are dutiful enough, your presence on this forum as a GD Rep should alleviate the need for it.

    John, I am not aware of the attorney fees in US in these matters. If you are saying they are astronomical, it may be possible that the domains were indeed stolen but we can wait for the court outcome nonetheless.
     
  21. GoWebnames.com

    GoWebnames.com Truth alone triumphs VIP

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    @jberryhill, can you please also touch upon this point?

    3) Is it possible to file a reply by email to this court in Virginia?
     
  22. Grilled

    Grilled Black Lives Matter VIP

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    upload_2020-9-29_22-23-40.png

    Interesting to see KidsCollege.com might be attached this, as it doesn't appear to be included in the list of domains provided by Mr. Petretta's counsel.

    upload_2020-9-29_22-25-40.png
    upload_2020-9-29_22-28-5.png

    Leaving one to ask, were more than 19 domains allegedly stolen?
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2020
  23. GoWebnames.com

    GoWebnames.com Truth alone triumphs VIP

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    May have forgotten or may have judged it unimportant enough.

    kidscollege.png

    The entire list of domains owned by SP, as per public WHOIS data, is attached herewith. Some of them were transferred to GoDaddy and SOLD by them.
     

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    Last edited: Sep 30, 2020
  24. jberryhill

    jberryhill Top Member John Berryhill, Ph.d., Esq. PRO VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Whoever sold the names got the money. There’s no reason for them to show up and contest the suit. In all likelihood, they are in a jurisdiction far beyond the Eastern District of Virginia.

    Anyone who bought the names would be wasting their time and money to show up. You don’t know where the money went or who got paid, so you can’t say that you bought the name from Petretta. You paid GoDaddy. What GoDaddy did with the money, you have no idea. That's not going to be a good look if you are trying to establish that you bought the names from Petretta and that for some bizarre reason, he decided to spend an order of magnitude more to get them back.

    Aside from which, even if you wanted to show up and argue, it would cost you many more times than what these names sold for, so what’s the point?

    So the rational outcome here is that, with the exception of the Go-Parts people who will ultimately lose their RDNH attempt, the defending domain names will either voluntarily transfer simply to avoid entanglement, or they will default.

    Litigation by email? Whether a judge decides to look at anything that may come in via various means of correspondence is up to that judge applying whatever local rules or discretion that judge may seek to apply, but you are unlikely to successfully litigate this claim to any sort of successful conclusion that way.

    A collateral challenge in India is kind of interesting for the sole reason that while GoDaddy's domain registration agreement requires all legal disputes to be brought in Arizona, I do know for a fact that, not too long ago, GoDaddy locked up the entire portfolio of a US domain investor solely because someone in India claimed they were due brokerage commissions on names the US investor had sold, and filed a bogus lawsuit against GoDaddy's Indian subsidiary.

    That episode, incidentally, is the downside of Mr. Styler's point about having a "local presence" in a lot of countries. GoDaddy, like any company, will always act in legal matters to protect its best interests. So, if GoDaddy has a local presence in Eastern Jibip, and someone decides to file a suit there involving GoDaddy and your domain names, then I am aware of at least one situation in which GoDaddy told their customer that the customer would have to go to court in Eastern Jibip to get the names unlocked.

    I do not know whether GoDaddy came away from that episode with any lessons learned, and I am certainly not any sort of authority on legal proceedings in India. But I can tell you from experience that I know at least one US domain investor who was put through the ringer by GoDaddy on account of a lawsuit some nitwit filed in India.
     
  25. GoWebnames.com

    GoWebnames.com Truth alone triumphs VIP

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    Yes John, we know about the gentleman in that suit. I hope a good sense of duty prevails in @Joe Styler and he tells his company GD to refund all these fraud sales as well, sparing the GoParts.com one which they have already refunded, made through their platform to us.

    The other question is, is it so easy to just file an in rem case in Virginia and win back the domains? Isn't Mr. Scott going to have to prove beyond doubt that it was indeed not him who sold these names? All his correspondence with me were on his WHOIS email and he claimed theft nearly two months after his domains were transferred over to GoDaddy. How long is such litigation supposed to last?
     

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