Auction of Righthaven website domain name under way
26 December 2011
The online auction of the righthaven.com website domain name got under way Monday, with bidders having until Jan. 6 to submit offers.
A judge has authorized a receiver to auction the intellectual property of Las Vegas-based Righthaven LLC, the newspaper copyright infringement lawsuit filer.
The auction is aimed at raising money to cover part of Righthaven’s $63,720 debt to a man who defeated Righthaven in court.
The man, Wayne Hoehn, and his attorneys defeated Righthaven when a judge threw out Righthaven’s lawsuit against him over Hoehn’s unauthorized post on a sports betting website message board of a Las Vegas Review-Journal column by columnist and former Publisher Sherman Frederick.
Hoehn was a defendant in one of Righthaven’s 275 lawsuits filed since March 2010.
The first auction covers only the Righthaven website domain name. The court-appointed receiver apparently is still trying to seize Righthaven’s federal copyright registrations so they can be auctioned, too.
Righthaven, in the meantime, is hoping the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will block the auction of its assets.
After six federal judges ruled Righthaven lacked standing to sue under copyrights assigned to it by the Review-Journal and the Denver Post, Righthaven rewrote its R-J lawsuit contract and has been hoping a judge will find that contract gives it standing to file infringement lawsuits.
The Denver Post lawsuit contract was not rewritten after that newspaper did not renew its copyright protection contract with Righthaven.
The court-appointed receiver in the Hoehn case, Lara Pearson of the law firm Rimon P.C., in the meantime, arranged for Righthaven’s website domain name to be auctioned beginning today by SnapNames.com.
With a minimum initial required bid of $100, by midmorning Monday the auction had attracted two bids that pushed the price up to $300. The bidding will continue through Jan. 6 at 12:15 p.m. PST.
One of Hoehn’s attorneys, Marc Randazza, on Monday noted the irony of Righthaven’s lawsuits in which it demanded alleged copyright infringers turn their website domain names over to Righthaven and the company now seeing its domain name auctioned.
“Righthaven went after hundreds of defendants in copyright cases. Often, the defendants were innocent and engaged in fair use. In all cases where a court has been asked, they found that Righthaven had no right to bring the suit in the first place. In all of their cases, Righthaven asked the court to award them not only money, but the defendant’s domain name,” Randazza noted in a blog post. “After losing a case to my client, Wayne Hoehn, Righthaven is at least $63,000 in debt to him. They refuse to pay. Now their domain name is up for auction to the highest bidder.”
Hoehn is the lone Righthaven defendant to defeat the company on both standing and fair use rulings. They were issued by U.S. District Judge Philip Pro in Las Vegas. Righthaven is appealing both of those rulings, as well as Pro’s decision awarding Hoehn his attorney’s fees.
As for Righthaven’s domain-name seizure demand in its lawsuits, that was found to be invalid by Las Vegas federal judge Roger Hunt, who found it wasn’t authorized by the federal Copyright Act after defendants complained it was merely a bullying tactic aimed at coercing defendants into settling.
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