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WADND Files Antitrust lawsuits Against ICANN and VeriSign

   
TechnologyAccording to the World Association of Domain Name Developers, ICANN and Verisign are facing antitrust lawsuits. These antitrust activities include monopolization, conspiracy, illegal price fixing and monopolising the .net and .com domain name markets.

The second suit, which was filed by the Coalition of ICANN Transparency (CFIT) seek to prevent VeriSign from widening its control over the top level domain name registries such as .com and .net. The two lawsuits are a result of October’s agreement between Verisign and ICANN, which gives VeriSign control of the .com domain registry until 2012. This agreement is intended bridge the gap caused by VeriSign’s launching of the controversial Site Finder feature in September of 2003.

The Site Finder feature redirected Internet users to its web site everytime surfers enter an inactive web address. This was criticized by many sectors of the Internet industry. ICANN faced VeriSign’s feature with a court action forcing the Site Finder to be suspended.

After five months, VeriSign sued ICANN for overstepping its authority and improperly attempting to regulate business violations. ICANN counter-sued.

However, the business relations between these two bodies have improved when the settlement was announced in October. This settlement permits VeriSign to raise 7 percent of domain registry prices for each year starting 2007. Although the settlement is still under consideration, it will be discussed by the ICANN board in a conference held in Vancouver this week.

Criticisms arose over ICANN ang VeriSigns agreement. According to the World Association of Domain Name Developers (WADND), one of the leading trade groups, this agreement would permanently allow VeriSign to monopolize the costs of .com domains, and this anti-competitie agreement with ICANN will provide the increase of costs for approximately 50% over the next few years.

According to Patrick Cathcart, the WADND lawyer, the price increase of the two companies does not include legitimate reasons to back it up. “VeriSign and ICANN are taking advantage of the lack of government oversight by filling their pockets at the expense of domain investors,” Patrick added.

On Monday, the World Association of Domain Name Developers filed suit in a California District Court.

According to John Jeffrey, ICANN’s general counsel, the lawsuits are an attempt to set the agenda for their ongoing Vancouver meeting. “It’s unfortunate that instead of being able to engage actively in the discussion of the settlement, we are responding to a lawsuit in the middle of a conference,” he added.

By Paulene Calinawan
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