“I believe this is all going to go back to square one,” Cohen told XBiz, “and if it does, I will prevail.” Cohen said that a series of judicial missteps and outright lies would bring the case back to trial.
Cohen has been battling San Francisco’s Gary Kremen for domain and trademark rights to Sex.com since 1995. Kremen registered the domain with Network Solutions (now Verisign) a year earlier, but Cohen said he had been using that name since 1989. The 2001 ruling that found Cohen guilty of stealing the domain using forged documents was erroneous, he said.
“We know the document was a forgery,” Cohen said. “But so what? Kremen didn’t own the rights in the first place.”
Cohen described a scenario in which “a roommate of Kremen’s roommate” who might not have had the authority to do so, signed over rights to Sex.com.
Cohen, who once owned the L.A. Free Love Society in the late 1960s as well as early adult Internet bulletin board the French Connection BBS, now keeps homes in London, Amsterdam and Monte Carlo from where he administers Eastern European casinos and a construction company. He is planning to build a hotel and casino in Macau.
But Cohen’s fight with Kremen once landed him in a Mexican jail. His assets had been frozen unexpectedly during one stage of the trial, he said, and he went to Mexico to retrieve two cashier’s checks prior to a wire transfer. Mexican authorities arrested him for attempting to remove that large of an amount of money from the country. Warrants were issued for his arrest in the United States, Cohen said, but Mexico would not let him leave.
“Mexican jails are not pretty,” Cohen related. “You have to have your family bring you food. A friend had to put up his house for my bail.”
Cohen lamented the proliferation of what he called false documents on the Internet. “People believe something if they read it enough times,” he said. He referred to a story he’d read (corroborated by Kremen) in which Cohen eluded Kremen’s lawyer’s subpoena by not cashing checks Kremen had sent under an assumed name. Instead Cohen returned them with a blow-up doll and a note reading “Nice try.”
“The checks were under Gary’s name,” Cohen stated, “and I didn’t send a note. I did send a blow-up doll.”
Cohen is alternately sanguine and optimistic about the results of a new trial. “If I win, I win,” he said. “If I lose, I lose. But I have no doubt that I will win if this comes back.”
Cohen believes that the Sex.com site is near-worthless. “With all the P2P networks out there, like Kazaa and LimeWire, people can get their sex for free,” he said. With Kremen and Sex.com, “you got a guy basically running a search engine.”
“People see the word sex and they think it’s interesting,” Cohen told XBiz. “We know it’s not interesting.”
Both Kremen and Cohen grudgingly admire their opponents. In separate interviews, each referred to the other as “an intelligent guy.”
“Stephen Cohen is an international fugitive and a convicted criminal,” Gary Kremen told XBiz. “But I’d have drinks with him in Monte Carlo.”