Preliminary Complaint Lodged at European Commission to Open Anti-Competition Discussions on .net Registry Agreement and Proposed .com Deal
Coalition for ICANN Transparency (CFIT) Sees Significant EU Impact
Brussels, Belgium – Dec 1, 2005 – This week, the Coalition for ICANN Transparency Inc. (CFIT) filed a preliminary complaint with the Competition Directorate of the European Commission to open discussions with the European Commission regarding the anti-competitive nature of the new .net and proposed .com Registry Agreements between VeriSign, Inc and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
This action was taken simultaneously with the filing of CFIT’s lawsuit against VeriSign and ICANN filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, California on Monday, Nov. 28 and an approach to the U.S. Department of Justice.
In its letter to the Competition Directorate, CFIT states that the two registry agreements “will have significant anti-competitive effects in markets for domain name registration and for related Internet services which depend on these domain registrations.” CFIT states the deals are in breach of Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty and applicable antitrust laws in the United States. Article 81 prohibits agreements that reduce consumer welfare by giving undertakings the ability to raise prices, reduce quality or choice of services or reduce innovation.
Specifically, the complaint notes that the agreements will allow VeriSign:
- To make its monopoly for .com and .net domain name registrations long lasting (if not permanent);
- To extend its monopoly and preclude competition in downstream services such as the auction/registration of expiring domain names or domain name directory assistance;
- To charge higher prices;
all to the detriment of Internet users including those located in Europe.
The complaint also stated that “Internet-related services are of concern to all European businesses and consumers, and any attempt to monopolize Internet-related services knows no national borders. Moreover, given the importance of the Internet to (cross-border) trade and economic growth in Europe, CFIT believes that any serious attempt to monopolize segments of the Internet industry should be Community interest and warrant priority action.”
The complaint is the first step in CFIT’s discussion process with the European Commission. Depending on the nature of discussion that results from this complaint, CFIT plans to file a formal complaint against these registry agreements.
About The Coalition for ICANN Transparency
The Coalition for ICANN Transparency Inc. – CFIT – is a not for profit Delaware corporation based in Washington, D.C. CFIT’s supporters include individuals, organizations, institutions and companies who are committed to the core principles on which ICANN, the internet governing body is founded. More information on CFIT is located at www.cfit.info.
Zeno Group for CFIT