Bodog strikes back at "patent trolls"

Calvin Ayre
Bodog founder Calvin Ayre.

Bodog Entertainment Group is going on the offensive against the company that seized its trademark-bearing domains.

The newest development in Bodog's ongoing litigation against 1st Technology LLC is that they are seeking to make a new law in the state of Washington.

On Nov. 13 Bodog Entertainment Group, S.A. (which is not the operator of the Bodog online entertainment businesses or domain names) filed a key motion in Washington state court - where 1st Technology, LLC obtained seizure of numerous domain names incorporating Bodog and related trademarks - asking the court to answer a question not addressed by state law: Are Internet domain names considered "property" that can be subject to seizure to collect on a judgment?

Bodog Entertainment Group, S.A., thinks they aren't.

Defense team lawyer James Nguyen, an entertainment, intellectual property and Internet law specialist at Foley & Lardner LLP explained, "This is a new legal issue triggered by the emergence of Internet technology."

There are currently no legal decisions in Washington about the issue and because of that the defending legal team is asking the Washington judge to look to established law in the commonwealth of Virginia, which holds that domain names should not be subject to seizure.

It's not unreasonable to expect a similar law in Washington, according to Nguyen.

"In a number of jurisdictions, trademarks are not considered assets that are subject to seizure," he said.

Nguyen went on to say that the domain names which incorporate the Bodog and related trademarks cannot be transferred because those domain names could not be used by a third party (such as anyone who might purchase the domain name through an Internet auction) without infringing on Bodog trademarks.

"If a court does not have the power to permit seizure of trademarks, it likewise should not have the power to seize or transfer domain names which contain those trademarks," Nguyen said.

Bodog founder Calvin Ayre has been very vocal in the ongoing case and has even called out the 1st Technology LLC president to a physical fight several times on his blog. Ayre weighed in on the ongoing case and made it clear that a decision in favor of Bodog Entertainment Group, S.A, would benefit trademark and domain name owners across cyberspace.

"The company in court from whom our domains were seized has never done any business in the U.S. nor was [it] aware of being served or that a subsequent default judgment had been issued in [its] absence," he said. "The company is now a defunct ex-supplier of data entry and domain management services to Bodog. Bodog is still and has always been the beneficiary of the Bodog domain names. We are confident that defendant's legal team can articulate these facts in addition to convincing the Washington judge to take consideration of the established Virgina law with regards to domain names. This is a groundbreaking case in the muddy waters of Internet law, and we are confident that we have many aspects in our favor to potentially solidify some clarity on this issue and have our domains returned to us."

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