Posted 1/19/11 : State had ‘no authority' to seize domain names, say trade association's lawyers
Online gambling trade association iMEGA reports that lawyers representing both sides of the Kentucky Internet domain name fight (see previous InfoPowa reportage) filed briefs this week in Franklin County Circuit Court, Kentucky.
Lawyers representing iMEGA asserted the association’s right to contest the attempts by the state of Kentucky to seize their members’ Web site addresses, while Kentucky’s lawyers ignored previous court rulings on standing, insisting that iMEGA and other trade associations lacked the right to appear.
“[T]his action (by the Commonwealth) is novel for the very reason that it is wrong:” wrote Jon Fleischaker, counsel for iMEGA. “There’s no authority for it.”
“The idea that the Commonwealth may proceed civilly against Internet domain names on the theory that they meet the criminal statutory definition of ‘gambling devices’ is simply not supported by the law,” Fleischaker wrote.
iMEGA has been joined by the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC), a Vancouver, BC-based association also representing a number of the domain owners.
Attorneys representing the state of Kentucky sought to portray both associations as “illegal gambling organizations”, claiming that associational standing only applies in limited circumstances.
“The Commonwealth’s attorneys compensate for a lack of supporting case law by devoting page after page to ad hominem attacks,” said iMEGA chairman Joe Brennan Jr. “In the absence of a reasoned argument, I guess calling us ‘bad people’ is going to be their strategy.”
“The irony is they’ve accused our members of trying to avoid the law,” Brennan said, “yet it was the Commonwealth that used a secret, ex parte hearing to have the rights to the domain names seized, while providing no notice to the rights holders, and no opportunity for them to be represented by counsel.”
“In the end, it just sad that those contingency-fee lawyers continue to use the imprimatur of the Commonwealth of Kentucky to make a cynical grab for money.”
The matter now lies in the hands of Franklin County circuit court Judge Thomas Wingate, who issued the original seizure orders on the behalf of Kentucky.