Judge Returns Sex.Com to Entrepreneur

After a two-year legal battle, a San Francisco entrepreneur has won back ownership rights to one of the most lucrative destinations in cyberspace: www.sex.com.

A federal judge in San Jose ruled Monday that Gary Kremen is the real owner of the site and that the current operator, ex-convict Stephen Cohen, most likely stole the rights to the domain name five years ago.

Kremen had registered the site with Network Solutions, the keeper of Internet domains, but hadn’t really developed it. Kremen claimed Cohen forged a document indicating the name had been sold, gave it to Network Solutions, and turned sex.com into a multimillion-dollar porn portal.

Cohen claimed he thought he had made a legitimate deal to buy the domain name for $1,000 and had rights to the name anyway through an online bulletin board he once ran called “The French Connection.”

U.S. District Judge James Ware ordered Network Solutions to transfer sex.com to Kremen’s control. Kremen, 37, said he was thinking about what to do with the site.

Worried that Cohen has been hiding his sex.com profits overseas, the judge ordered him to put $25 million into a court account until possible damages are decided.

Cohen, who served prison time in the 1990s for a bankruptcy fraud conviction, lives in Tijuana, Mexico, and was not in court for the ruling. He did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday.