Manwin Cybersquatting Suit Shifts to Cyberattack Threats

Rhett Pardon

LOS ANGELES — Manwin has been given the green light to subpoena four more ISPs to assist in learning the identities of those responsible for an escalating harassment campaign against the company and its management.

Already, the adult entertainment conglomerate has fingered at least one defendant, Nicholas Bulgin of Georgia, alleging he registered Manwin.net, Manwin.co, Brazzer.us, ManwinSucks.com and other sites in an effort to make extortion attempts.

Manwin has maintained claims that Bulgin and unnamed defendants in the past year have created a slew of fake names and personas purporting to own each of the "infringing" domains.

Bulgin, Manwin attorneys say, used the pseudonyms Gill Manwinder, Yi Weng, Chris Hill, Jim Jagen and "Radishdreams" in earlier correspondence with the company.

After posting defamatory pieces relative to child porn on Manwin.net, Manwin.co, Brazzer.us and ManwinSucks.com, Manwin claims that Bulgin and other defendants shifted activities to viral methods using Twitter and BlogSpot.

Now, Manwin counsel say, the company has been victim to a threat, and they have connected it to the suit.

The threat, emailed from an encrypted web-based Hushmail account on July 5, was directed at Fabian Thylmann, the company's managing partner, and makes threats of cyberattacks on Manwin.

The email, titled "My Gift to You Fabian," was sent through Hushmail by a user under "thehack@hushmail.me" address.

"I will keep this short," the email reads. "Tomorrow while your sites are active, we're going to find every flaw to your security. We come together as one to take down the giant. We will study your sites and how they respond to our small attempts then hit you with the big guns later. Why am I telling you this? The challenge is greatest prize in my clan. We want to see how you respond to this threat. We warned you nicely before and you were too prideful. People think you're smart but that's just it. To smart people, a genius is the nerd. You should have expected US."

Armed with that email as well as others, Manwin counsel were given permission to subpoena records at Google, Phonebooth Inc., Hushmail and Formless Network. Manwin in April subpoenaed and received data relative to the suit from Domains by Proxy, GoDaddy and Charter Communications.  

Last week, Manwin counsel told the court they wanted to connect the dots to defendants' use of GillSevenz@gmail.com and telephone number (424) 256-5814, using the service Phonebooth. A federal judge gave approval of the additional subpoenas last Friday.

"It is critical that Manwin identify these individuals and their role in this scheme to stop the damage to its business and reputation," a Manwin brief said. "Additionally, it is critical that discovery take place before the records or server logs retained by the third parties are lost or deleted."

The cybersquatting case against Bulgin and defendants was initiated in April after Manwin officials took notice of Manwin.net.

Manwin charges that the defendants registered the domain name Manwin.net using the name "Gill Manwinder," a purported businessman from the U.K. who was in the process of setting up various businesses using his family name "Manwinder."

The company said that "Gill Manwinder" was used to interfere in a U.S. trademark application. "Gill Manwinder" claimed that the "Manwinder" family name, used in business, was being tarnished by Manwin.

In another instance, the defendants are accused of registering Manwin.co, using the name Yi Weng, which purported to be a Chinese woman who maintains a blog to discuss issues of spirituality and charity. "In an attempt to justify use of the Manwin trademark [of Manwin.co], defendant titled this  website "ManWin — the huMAN WiNdow to the soul," the suit said.

Bulgin also is said to have posted a variety of adult industry message boards that got the attention of Manwin officials after the company filed suit against ICM Registry, the operators of the .XXX sTLD. "Defendants exhorted members of the public to register infringing Manwin-related domain names and then re-direct those domains to ICM [Registry]," the suit said.

Manwin has all along charged in the suit that defendants "engaged in an elaborate scam to force Manwin to purchase the Manwin domains."

The Luxembourg-based adult company said that the defendants sent dozens of emails to Manwin and its employees threatening to dilute the Manwin trademark and divert Manwin's traffic if it did not purchase the domains.

The defendants also sent emails under the name "Jim Jagen" to Playboy Enterprises, which licenses its name to Manwin. In the emails to Playboy, the defendants "accused Manwin of using stolen property and not car[ing] much for the law or about how things should be done."

Manwin later made a deal for some of the domains, but after the deal was brokered the defendants reneged on an agreement and claimed that associates would not transfer them. Later, "'Gill Manwinder' contacted Manwin, demanding that the company pay him $4,300 to transfer the domain name www.manwin.net," the suit said.

The suit charges the defendants with violation of the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, defamation, intentional interference with prospective advantage and unfair competition.

Manwin is asking for an injunction against the defendants from infringing on similar-worded Manwin names and domains, as well as Twitter and BlogSpot accounts; a transfer of infringing domains; and $100,000 in damages and attorneys fees.

Manwin did not respond to XBIZ for comment by post time; Bulgin was unable to be reached.

View Document

Related: