Manwin, ICM in Settlement Talks; Complaint to Be Amended

Rhett Pardon

LOS ANGELES — Manwin attorneys say they are in settlement talks with .XXX operator ICM Registry and ICANN, according to a court filing today.

In addition, Manwin counsel have asked the court to take motions off the court calendar while it amends its antitrust complaint, which it intends on filing on Friday.

"Plaintiffs and ICM have engaged in discussions aimed at resolving the disputes that are the subject of this litigation," Manwin counsel said. "The parties believe that additional time would potentially allow the parties to resolve all or some portion of their disputes.

"By continuing the response date for the amended complaint for 60 days, the parties will be able to focus their energies on these efforts ... ."

Both parties have agreed that ICM and ICANN would have until April 17 to file a response to Manwin's amended complaint.

Manwin and co-plaintiff Digital Playground's suit seeks to "redress for monopolistic conduct, price gouging and anticompetitive and unfair practices, broadly harming competition, businesses and consumers, and arising out of the establishment of .XXX ... ."

The suit by the two companies was waged just prior to .XXX's general roll out, and in January Manwin acquired Digital Playground.

Filed at U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Manwin and Digital Playground's suit goes on to say that .XXX “defensive registrations” are causing confusion and dilution of adult websites’ values, and that the costs and disadvantages of them outweigh any benefit of the sTLD.

In late January, ICM and ICANN asked a federal judge to dismiss the suit as an anti-SLAPP case.

ICM claims that the suit arises out of ICM’s establishment of the .XXX top level domain through petitioning and other activities protected by the 1st Amendment, and  seeks to enjoin the distribution of .XXX domain and its ability to serve as a forum for protected expression. 

Further, ICM says there are deficiencies in the plaintiffs’ federal antitrust claims and that they have failed to allege any fraud on the public, as is required to prove their claim under the “fraud” prong of California's unfair competition law that they have failed to allege any injury sufficient to confer standing under the law.  

ICANN, meanwhile, says that the Internet manager “does not engage in trade or commerce” and therefore antitrust laws don't apply to its approval of the .XXX top-level domain.

ICM Registry's Stuart Lawley told XBIZ: "Any and all discussions are confidential."

Officials from Manwin did not respond to XBIZ queries on the court filing by post time.