[Case Study] Pocket Kings Limited v Safenames Limited and the Commonwealth of Kentucky

I acted on behalf of the domain name registrar and hosting provider, Safenames, in the High Court case of Pocket Kings Limited -v- Safenames Limited and the Commonwealth of Kentucky [2009] EWCH 2529 (Ch), [2009] All ER (D) 205 (Oct), 2010 2 WLR 1110.

The case concerned the enforceability in England and Wales of a domain name order made in the United States state of Kentucky affecting the online gaming business operated through the domain name fulltiltpoker.com.

Online Poker Image | Courtesy of www.123rf.comPocket Kings was the owner of the fulltiltpoker.com domain name and Safenames was contractually responsible for pointing the domain name towards Pocket Kings’ domain name servers. However, in contrast to its contractual obligations, the order in the Kentucky proceedings required Safenames to surrender the domain name. Safenames did not surrender the domain name and, before the state of Kentucky acted to enforce the order, Pocket Kings sought a declaration that the courts of England and Wales would neither recognise nor enforce the order in the Kentucky proceedings for the seizure or forfeiture of the domain name.

The state of Kentucky failed to acknowledge service and Pocket Kings applied for summary judgment. Safenames quite rightly said it was willing to submit to judgment on agreed terms, so long as Pocket Kings obtained judgment in default against Kentucky.

The legal team for Pocket Kings argued that the jurisdiction of the state of Kentucky exercised through a domain seizure order on an English registrar would be improper in that it constituted the imposition of the criminal and public law of a foreign state on a British company.

The Outcome:

The judgment went in favour of Pocket Kings, placing the company in a strong position in the event of future domain attacks and giving Safenames the assurance that it could continue to fulfil its contractual obligations to Pocket Kings notwithstanding the order in the Kentucky proceedings.

This case highlighted for me how the internet has really come to affect businesses and again how important ownership of your intellectual property (including your web property) is so crucial.

Are you in a dispute over your domain name ownership? Give me a call on 01908 660 966 or email me on Christopher.buck@franklins-sols.co.uk to talk to me about your issue.

About Christopher Buck

Chris is a Commercial Services Solicitor at Franklins, specialising in contracts; dispute resolution; insolvency; intellectual property and business structures. You can connect with him on LinkedIn
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