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The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has provided new clarity on the means for a party owed money, or owed a domain name, to obtain satisfaction by seizure and sale of an online domain name. 

According to the Ninth Circuit, once a money judgment has been obtained, a federal district court may appoint a receiver consistent with state law, to take control of and auction off domain names owed by the judgment debtor.  The court held specifically that the proper location for such an enforcement procedure is the federal district court where the official registry of such domain names is located (the registry being the definitive database for domain name issuance – not the registrar, which may be one of many service providers dealing with the registry). 

In many cases, the necessary court will be the Northern District of California (located in San Francisco-Oakland-Silicon Valley), where VeriSign, the official registry for all “.com” and “.net” domain names, has its headquarters. 

The Ninth Circuit then referred to the California Civil Procedure Code rules for execution of a money judgment, including the appointment of a receiver, and confirmed that domain names are intangible property under California law which are subject to enforcement of a money judgment against the owner.  (DS Holdings, LLC v. Zuccarini dba Country Walk, 9th Circuit No. 07-16788, February 26, 2010).

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