Village Pizza House of Brookline Village says when it decided to change Web-design firms, it learned the old one had taken control of its domain name and then not only refused to give it up, but changed it to harm the pizza place's business.
Now the pizza place wants a slice out of EIC of New York: It filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Boston yesterday seeking at least $100,000 in damages for the money it says it lost over several years until it finally knuckled under and paid the $500 fee it says EIC demanded to give back the domain.
Village Pizza House says it hired EIC in 2004 to redesign and host its Web site. It alleges that in the process of re-pointing Internet domain name servers - essentially computerized directories that make the Internet work - to the new site, EIC transferred ownership of the domain name to itself. When Village Pizza House told EIC in 2009 it wanted to hire another company for another site redesign, EIC refused to give up the domain name unless the pizza place paid it $500, the suit alleges.
Village Pizza House refused and, the suit charges, EIC started running ads for Domino's and other pizza places on the site, changed the listed street address to that of a Village Pizza House competitor and reverted listed prices to those of 2004 - costing the place money when it had to give customers those prices, lest it lose their business.
The pizza place said it bought a new, similar domain name, but that EIC proved good at search-engine optimization: The original site continued to rank well in Google searches.
Village Pizza House says the shennanigans cost it at least $100,000 in lost profits. It's seeking at least that much, plus damages and lawyer's fees.