Designer Skin LLC v. S & L Vitamins, Inc., et al.
Conversion - Internet Library of Law and Court Decisions - Updated March 11, 2008
No. C 06-03504 WHA (N.D. Ca., May 10, 2007)
Court finds defendant, who claimed to have purchased plaintiffs’ Express.com domain for $150,000 from someone who purported to be, but was not, the domain’s Administrative Contact, guilty of conversion and directs defendant to return the domain to plaintiffs. Notably, the seller was contacted at the email address set forth for the domain’s Administrative Contact in the Whois Registry. Because plaintiffs had never voluntarily transferred the domain, the seller was a thief who could not transfer good title to defendant. As a result, defendant was not a good faith purchaser for value, but was instead, guilty of conversion. Finally, the Court held that defendant could not defeat plaintiffs’ claim to title by relying on the data contained in the Whois registry, as this was simply an information database maintained by private parties, and not the equivalent of a statutorily created title registration system. This data, and particularly the Administrative Contact’s email address, had been changed without plaintiffs’ knowledge or consent.
505 F.Supp.2d 755, Civ. No. 06-cv-01726-LTB-CBS (D. Colo., Feb. 13, 2007)
The Court did dismiss so much of defendant's counterclaims that advanced claims for conversion, civil theft and RICO arising out of the same copying activities. The Court dismissed the conversion claims both because Internet Archive did not exercise sufficient dominion over defendant's property merely by copying her site and displaying it online, and because Internet Archive removed defendant's site, and thereby ceased exercising any dominion over it, promptly upon her request.
The Internet Archive did not move to dismiss copyright infringement claims defendant asserted arising out of its copying activities, which will also go forward.
No. 01-15899 (9th Cir., July 25, 2003)
Reversing, in part, the court below, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals holds that plaintiffs have stated a valid conversion claim against defendant Network Solutions Inc. ("NSI") as a result of NSI's involvement in the improper transfer of plaintiffs' domain name to a third party. NSI transferred the domain name to this third party as a result of its receipt of a forged "facially suspect" letter purporting to authorize such a transfer, without validating the request with plaintiffs. In reaching this result, the Ninth Circuit held that the registrant of a domain name has an intangible property interest therein capable of being converted.
In re TJX Companies Retail Security Breach Litigation
Civil Act. No. 07-10162-WGY (D. Mass., December 18, 2007)
Apply Massachusetts law, a Federal District Court holds that conversion claims will not lie against defendants as a result of their mishandling of cardholder and account data maintained in electronic format. To pursue such a claim in Massachusetts requires conversion of a tangible chattel, or intangible property rights that have merged into a document, such as a bank passbook or stock certificate. As the electronic data in question was intangible property, a claim for conversion could not be stated, and the Court denied plaintiffs’ motion for leave to amend the complaint to assert such a claim. Said the Court:
In reaching this result, the Court declined to follow the holding of the New York Court of Appeals in Thyroff v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., 864 N.E.2d 1272 (NY 2007), which allowed an employee to pursue conversion claims arising out of his employer’s retention of personal correspondence and business related information on company related equipment leased to him. The New York Court of Appeals held that plaintiff could pursue conversion claims arising out of the alleged improper retention of such “electronic records.”
Louis E. Thyroff v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, et al.
USCOA2 No. 41, (N.Y. Crt. App., March 22, 2007)
The New York Court of Appeals extends New York’s common law tort of conversion to “intangible electronic records.” Prior to the High Court’s decision, in the state of New York, the common law tort of conversion was limited to the conversion of tangible personal property, or intangible personal property that had ‘merged’ into a tangible object, such as a stock certificate. Finding that it was time for the tort of conversion to evolve to “keep pace with contemporary realities of widespread computer use,” the Court held that it extended to intangible electronic records stored on a company computer system. Said the Court:
As a result of this decision, the plaintiff, formerly an insurance agent for defendant Nationwide Mutual Insurance, was allowed to pursue a conversion claim arising from defendant’s decision to deny plaintiff access to electronic personal and business records he stored on the company’s computer system. Plaintiff used Nationwide’s computer system throughout the course of his business relationship with Nationwide.