Citing the ongoing stabilization in Libya and reports this morning that former Libyan president Moammar Gadhafi had been killed, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton lifted a nearly eight-month stay on a cybersquatting case filed by the Libyan government.
Libya has been trying to reclaim four Internet domain names that include the words "Libya" and "embassy" from a Washington businessman, Ahmad Miski. Miski bought the domain names in 2002 and 2003, and claims he is the rightful owner.
The Libyan government – in the only known open case nationwide where Libya is a plaintiff – sued Miski in 2006 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Following a bench trial in February, however, Walton stayed the case in April at the Libyan government’s request and also in light of an executive order placing sanctions on the Gadhafi regime.
During a status hearing Thursday morning, Libya’s lead counsel, J.P. Szymkowicz of Washington’s Szymkowicz & Szymkowicz, said that since the embassy had reopened under the post-Gadhafi Transitional National Council over the summer, his client was ready to proceed.
Walton noted that the regime change shouldn’t have any effect on the new government’s right to sue for the domain names, which include embassyoflibya.org, libyaembassy.com, libya-embassy.org and libyanembassy.com.
Miski’s attorney, Eric Menhart of Washington’s CyberLaw, said his client was also ready to proceed. Miski had opposed the stay, arguing that all the facts were on the record and the fighting in Libya earlier this year shouldn’t have had any bearing on the case.
Walton agreed to lift the stay. He expressed concern that elements of the executive order were still in place, but said he also expected it would be fully lifted in light of recent events.
Libya sued Miski in November 2006, demanding the domain names and between $400,000 and $1 million in damages. Miski filed counterclaims worth $2 million, accusing the Libyan embassy of refusing to work with his clients in certifying documents unless he handed over the domain names and a cut of his fees.
Attorneys for Libya and Miski made their case to Walton during a two-day bench trial in February, but Walton issued the stay before both sides could file post-trial briefs that he had requested. Walton set a schedule for filing the briefs on Thursday, and said he was aiming to resolve the case by March 2012.