Storage specialist Optima Technology is suing the owner of dotcom domains for $3 million after VeriSign allowed its Internet site to be taken over by a former employee.

The lawsuit, which alleges Michael Decorte took control of the domain in 2001 after sending an unauthorised letter to VeriSign, says the company has suffered a loss of earnings during the months it had no control of what appeared on the Net.

Optima president, Barry Eisler said in a press release: "We are taking this action now, after notifying Network Solutions on several occasions that its actions caused our company a great deal of damage and lost revenue.”

He was joined by his vice president Jack Geering, who argued: "To be fair, competition has to be based on a level playing field – companies must compete on the basis of innovation and according to the laws of the land. All we ask is that Network Solutions play by these rules and stop conducting damaging and possible illegal actions against domain holders like Optima."

The lawsuit follows the successful legal battle by the owner of, Gary Kremen, to make VeriSign responsible for handing over his domain in 1995 to one Stephen Michael Cohen, currently a fugitive from justice. In July this year, the Appeal Court ruled that a domain was property and VeriSign had a duty to protect that property since it was ultimately in charge.

Gary Kremen welcomed the lawsuit: “I am happy this is finally happening,” he told us. “In the next several months, I believe more cases like this will come out.”

Optima is based in California and sells multi-platform software for storage systems including DeskTape and DeskTape Pro, CD-Access and CD-R Access Pro and DiskArray Pro, Xchange and Xchange Pro.

At the same time as announcing its lawsuit against VeriSign, it also threatened court action against companies that infringe its CD-R patents following a case with a major Apple software company that was settled this week.