A federal judge has awarded the popular and lucrative "sex.com" Web site to its founder, Gary Kremen, who alleged that a competitor had pilfered the site from him turning it into a lucrative porn link.
In a series of suits and counter-suits, San Francisco entrepreneur Kremen alleged that his cyberspace nemesis, Stephen Cohen, stole the legal rights to sex.com in 1995. Kremen had registered the name in 1994.
The domain name has been a bonanza for Cohen, a convicted felon, who has made millions by linking online users to a universe of X-rated websites for up to three months, charging a fee of 25 dollars.
At Monday's court hearing, US District Judge James Ware ruled that Cohen had stolen the name by forging a letter to Network Solutions, which, at the time, controlled the allocation of Internet addresses.
"This is a victory for the little guy," Kremen said in a phone interview following Ware's decision. "This couldn't have gone any better for me."
Cohen had turned sex.com into what Kremen's lawyers call a "multimillion dollar sex empire" -- a one-stop shop for the nastiest, raunchiest pornography the Internet has to offer.
Lawyers say the site gets as many as 25 million hits each day, and could be worth as much as 100 million dollars.
Cohen has consistently declined to comment on the case, but it is clear that he made quite a bit of money. Court documents show him acknowledging receiving a 17 million-dollar salary as well as 100 million in stock options.
Cohen denied forging a letter to Network Solutions, and insisted his company had cut a deal with Online Classifieds to take over the name against payment of 1,000 dollars.
Kremen also accused Cohen of hiding his profits from sex.com in a variety of offshore bank accounts around the world. In court papers, Cohen repeatedly refused to answer questions from Kremen's lawyers about his finances, asserting his rights to avoid self-incrimination -- SAN JOSE, California (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)