GoDaddy and Dynadot respond to lawsuit

GoDaddy files motion to dismiss, Dynadot claims lack of jurisdiction.

GoDaddy and Dynadot have responded to a lawsuit over the domain name.

Virgil Griffith was the registrant of the domain name, which was used as a type of resolver to enable people to visit .eth domains from popular browsers. The domain expired on July 26, and Griffith was unable to renew it because he was in prison.

The domain went through the deletion cycle until the last couple of days when, based on the standard procedure for domains registered at Uniregistry (which GoDaddy acquired), it was transferred to Dynadot as part of an expired domain auction. It sold there for $852,000.

Griffith and Ethereum Name Service sued GoDaddy, Dynadot, and the company that bought the domain at auction to get the domain name back. A judge granted a temporary restraining order halting the sale and transferring the domain back.

Yesterday, both GoDaddy and Dynadot responded to the suit.

GoDaddy filed a motion to dismiss. Its argument (pdf) can be summarized as:

  1. The lawsuit named the wrong parties. The domain was registered with Uniregistry (GoDaddy Online Services Cayman Islands), not the entities names in the suit.
  2. Even if it was against GoDaddy, it was the plaintiff who failed to timely renew the domain.

Extending on the second argument, GoDaddy notes that the domain expired and, even at that point, the plaintiffs did little to renew the domain:

Indeed, Plaintiffs’ alleged efforts to renew the Domain’s registration amount to something of a comedy of errors. That is, Plaintiffs: (a) failed to take any action to timely renew the Domain registration prior to its expiration on July 26, 2022; then over a week after the Domain’s registration had already expired (b) emailed an unwitting security executive at GoDaddy regarding this issue, notwithstanding that GoDaddy is not the registrar and that this employee has no responsibility for domain name registrations or renewals; then, having unsurprisingly received no response, Plaintiffs (c) took no further action for nearly a month, until September 1, 2022—a week after plans to auction the Domain were already announced.

The plaintiffs argued that Uniregistry’s default renewal setting was auto-renew, but GoDaddy noted that the lawsuit doesn’t state that Griffith elected to use auto-renew or that Uniregistry was successfully able to take payment for the domain to renew it. (Domains set to auto-renew still must have a valid form of payment to be renewed. Given that the domain owner was in prison, it’s likely that the payment method on file was invalid.)

GoDaddy also states that:

The Uniregistry Agreement expressly allows Uniregistry to make available any expired domain “available for registration by a third party,” Uniregistry Agreement, § 2.12, thus there
can necessarily be no liability on this basis.

This is common language in registration agreements that allows registrars to sell domains sometime after they expire.

Dynadot filed an answer (pdf) to the complaint, noting that most of the allegations are against GoDaddy. It also claimed that the venue is improper.



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