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RegisterFly swatted by federal court

ICANN triumphs in legal battle with wayward registrar

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The Internet Corporation for the Assignment of Names and Numbers (ICANN) revealed today that US District Court Judge Manuel Real has issued a preliminary injunction in its favor allowing for the immediate termination of its Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) with dysfunctional registrar RegisterFly.

The termination was long overdue. RegisterFly has been beset by allegations of mismanagement and fraud for over a year, and the company is itself the subject of related litigation by one of its former domain holders. The extent of the damage is still unknown; one reason for the victory by ICANN was the refusal (inability?) of RegisterFly to provide accurate registrant data to ICANN as stipulated in the RAA.

The ruling sweeps aside the arbitration clause required by the RAA, and orders RegisterFly to turn over all registrant data to ICANN as soon as possible. Of course, since Judge Real had already issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)to that same effect on April 16, and Registerfly did not comply with that order, frustrated registrants are in the same state of limbo they were in ten days ago. Could some of the data have been lost in the back and forth power struggle for control of the registrant data that occurred between founders Kevin Medina and John Naruszewicz, when company servers were allegedly hacked to move the registrant data to new servers? Could CEO and sole shareholder Medina be so narcissistic as to take all of his customers down with him? Who knows?

ICANN is rightfully moving quickly to transfer all the existant domains at RegisterFly to another registrar, and put an open invitation on its site to solvent and stable registrars to issue proposals to effectuate a bulk transfer of Registerfly data as soon as possible.

The statement notes, "the provision to ICANN of current and accurate data for all of RegisterFly’s domain names has also been ordered by the Court as RegisterFly failed to meet the conditions of a temporary restraining order (TRO) which the Court issued on April 16, 2007. Following the injunction, ICANN is immediately inviting statements of interest from accredited registrars starting Monday, 30 April 2007, to act as a transfer provider, so domain name registrants can gain full access to their domains. The registrar handling the transfers will temporarily hold the names and help registrants transfer to any ICANN accredited registrar of their choice."

It's hard to imagine federal marshalls storming Medina's compound in Miami Beach to capture his servers, but that appears to be the direction this bizarre case is taking. Will Medina cave and just hand over the data? Does he even have all of it? Just how weird can all of this get?

Tune in next week to find out - same Bat time, same Bat channel.®

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