Court Issues Opinion in Penthouse, FriendFinder Lawsuit

Court Issues Opinion in Penthouse, FriendFinder Lawsuit
Rhett Pardon

GEORGETOWN, Del. — A Delaware court today ordered Penthouse Global Media Inc. to turn over nine websites that weren’t part of a purchase agreement with FriendFinder Networks Inc.

Last year, FriendFinder unintentionally gave domain authorization codes to Penthouse as part of a February 2016 stock deal involving 16 subsidiaries worth $6.5 million to the new ownership of Penthouse that, according to the lawsuit, took control of the sites and had been redirecting visitors to its own online properties.

FriendFinder, in its suit filed at Chancery Court of Delaware, asserted that Penthouse converted FriendFinder property. Today, the court said in its 56-page ruling that Penthouse must turn over all the disputed domains to FriendFinder within 10 days.

“FriendFinder has shown that under the stock purchase agreement, the disputed domains were associated with, used in, or material to the FriendFinder business at the time of closing,” the court said in its order. “Penthouse has not put forth any evidence that it is entitled to any of the disputed domains under the stock purchase agreement.”

Two of the sites involved in the suit, BookOfSex.com and HornyWife.com, have been used for years as co-brands of FriendFinder's adult dating site, AdultFriendFinder.com.

The suit said that BookOfSex.com and HornyWife.com accounted for a large portion of FriendFinder revenue through membership fees and advertising revenue. FriendFinder noted in the suit that in the first four days after the transfer of the sites was noticed, it lost out on $7,300 in ad revenue.

Jonathan Buckheit, FriendFinder’s CEO, today said he was thankful to get the websites under his company’s control.

"While we are pleased to finally be getting our property back, we believe the context of this situation, as reflected by the court's comment that Penthouse presented no applicable evidence, never should have required legal proceedings to resolve," Buckheit said.

Penthouse CEO Kelly Holland told XBIZ she would soon issue a statement in regards to the decision.