Coalition for ICANN Transparency Sues ICANN and VeriSign to Stop Implementation of Proposed .com Registry Agreement
San Jose, Calif., Nov. 28, 2005 – The Coalition for ICANN Transparency Inc. (CFIT) filed suit today against VeriSign, Inc. and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) seeking various judicial rulings and an injunction relating to the new .net and proposed .com Registry Agreements. The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif. and will likely dominate the discussion when ICANN convenes later this week in Vancouver, Nov. 30 – Dec. 4.
According to lead lawyer, Jesse Markham Jr., of the San Francisco-based firm of Morrison & Foerster, this is an antitrust action to preserve the status quo in markets related to Internet domain names and to prevent VeriSign from expanding its monopoly control over the .com and .net top-level domain name registries into highly competitive downstream and adjacent markets.
“ICANN has vacated its government-mandated obligation to maintain competition and prevent discrimination in markets related to Internet domain names by succumbing to VeriSign’s strong arm tactic and allowing it to leverage its limited-duration contractual control over .com and .net into a permanent control over those registries and over adjacent markets segments for various domain name services,” said Markham.
The action seeks to enjoin the signing and implementation of a proposed .com agreement announced late last month; an injunction against VeriSign’s monopoly leveraging conduct; an injunction requiring ICANN to adhere to its government mandate to maintain competition and prevent discrimination in the domain marketplace; and an injunction to entertain competing bids for the operation of the .com registry. The suit notes that if the proposed agreement is signed, it would also create problems that do not now exist including:
- Erosion of the Internet community’s role in determining policy
- Locked in price increases adding $1.5 billion to the cost to consumers without economic justification as called for in every other ICANN/registry agreement (with exception to .net, another VeriSign contract), as compared to the amounts that consumers would likely pay under a competitively bid agreement
- Expansion of VeriSign’s contractual control to the detriment of competitive segments of the market
- Permanent control of the .com database granted to VeriSign
- Reduction in the traditional role of U.S. government oversight
“VeriSign’s conduct makes it abundantly clear that it has no intention of reining in its illegal monopolistic imperialism until it has conquered every market related to Internet domain names. This battle is global,” Markham continued.
In addition to these injunctions, CFIT is alerting the U.S. Department of Justice of the significant anticompetitive issues the proposed .com Registry agreement would provoke. “We are filing a preliminary complaint with the European Commission detailing similar issues. It’s now up to the courts to intervene and prevent ICANN and VeriSign from eliminating competition in many markets related to Internet domain names,” said Markham.
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.