GoDaddy Sued Over Sale of Ethereum Domain Name Service's Vital Eth.link Address

Company behind Web3 domain service Ethereum Name Service and Virgil Griffith allege that GoDaddy falsely announced the domain had expired, and then prematurely allowed it to be sold to a third party.

AccessTimeIconSep 8, 2022 at 6:11 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 6:32 p.m. UTC
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The developer of the Ethereum Name Service, which is responsible for all the web addresses ending in .eth used by the Ethereum community, sued GoDaddy over the sale of the eth.link domain name that was vital to running ENS.

In a complaint filed on Monday, True Names Ltd., the company behind the Web3 domain name service, alleged that GoDaddy not only falsely announced to eth.link users the domain registration had expired, but it also sold the domain off before it was supposed to return to the registry and be available for re-purchase.

Eth.link helped ensure users trying to get to .eth addresses actually could. MetaMask and other Web3-enabled browsers can get to .eth sites without trouble, but traditional browsers cannot. Eth.link provided a bridge. (While old-school browsers can't directly get to, as a hypothetical example, CoinDesk.eth, they could via CoinDesk.eth.link.)

Domain registration renewals are typically straightforward, but in this case the person with the authority to renew the registration for eth.link, Virgil Griffith, is currently serving a 63-month prison sentence for instructing North Koreans on how to use crypto as a way to evade sanctions.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, alleges the registration was set to expire on July 26, 2023, but in August GoDaddy falsely announced it had expired on July 26, 2022. According to the filing, GoDaddy had said the domain name would be available for purchase again on Sept. 5, 2022, but it had sold eth.link to a third party, crypto start-up Manifold Finance, on Sept. 3.

"In so doing, GoDaddy has deprived Plaintiff True Names Ltd. of its livelihood. The sale will disable a valuable cryptocurrency network and recklessly risk making it available to scores of malicious actors," the complaint said.

Plaintiffs True Names and Griffith are seeking damages worth at least $75,000 excluding legal costs, and are calling for a temporary restraining order against defendants GoDaddy, Inc., GoDaddy.com LLC and any employees or entities that directly or indirectly allowed eth.link to expire and be available for purchase by third parties.

ENS had two million domain name registrations as of Aug. 17.

The eth.link landing page currently displays a message from new owner Manifold Finance that says services will be restored in the upcoming week. Domain Name Wire reported that Manifold paid $851,919.30 for eth.link.

GoDaddy declined to comment on ongoing litigation.

UPDATE (Sept. 9, 17:19 UTC): Adds response from GoDaddy to last paragraph.


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Sandali Handagama

Sandali Handagama is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for policy and regulations, EMEA. She does not own any crypto.


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