CIVIL (INTERNET DOMAINS): Commonwealth of Kentucky, ex rel. J. Michael Brown, Secretary, Justice & Public Safety Cabinet v. Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Assn., Inc., et al. (SC 3/18/2010)

Commonwealth of Kentucky, ex rel. J. Michael Brown, Secretary, Justice & Public Safety Cabinet v. Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Assn., Inc., et al.
2009-SC-000043-MR March 18, 2010 Opinion by Justice Noble. All sitting; all concur.

Petitioners filed for a writ from the Court of Appeals to stop Commonwealth from seizing the Internet domain names of gambling websites. The Court of Appeals granted the writ after concluding that the circuit court was acting outside its jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals, holding petitioners lacked standing to challenge the forfeiture. Some of the counsel for petitioners claimed to represent the domain names themselves. The Court held that in in rem litigation such as this, only those with an interest in the property have an interest in the litigation. Since the property can have no interest in itself, it had no interest in contesting the forfeiture.

Furthermore, the Court held that two gaming trade associations who purported to represent the remaining petitioners also lacked standing. The Court noted that these trade associations have standing only if its members could have sued in their own right. Since neither trade association would identify which domain name registrants it claimed to represent, the Court held the associations could not meet their burden of showing they had standing. The Court declined to reach the merits of the case and remanded to the Court of Appeals with instructions to dismiss the petition for a writ.

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