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November 30, 2005

ICANN and VeriSign get temporary lawsuit reprieve

VeriSign Inc will have to wait until next year before its controversial proposal to run .com for another five years, possibly gaining the ability to raise prices, is decided.

By CBR Staff Writer

A San Jose judge yesterday denied a request for a temporary restraining order that would have prevented the Internet Corp for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees VeriSign’s domain name business, from approving the proposed .com deal.

But the court ruled that way because ICANN, in court documents, indicated that its board had no intention of making a decision on the deal this year, meaning the request did not meet the threshold for a restraining order.

Both ICANN and the plaintiff, the Coalition for ICANN Transparency, a recently formed US-based lobby group representing Momentous.ca Corp, a Canada-based VeriSign channel partner, claimed minor victories following the ruling.

John Berard, a spokesperson for CFIT, suggested that ICANN pulled the .com decision from its board meeting, set for this Sunday here in Vancouver, because of the lawsuits.

ICANN general counsel John Jeffrey denied this, saying: We do not delay things because of lawsuits. Companies with concerns should bring them into ICANN’s open decision-making processes, he said.

According to Jeffrey, the decision was made two weeks ago to delay the .com decision until last year. The public record is fuzzy on whether this was made clear to all members of the ICANN community.

If ICANN signs off on the new VeriSign contract, it could allow the company to introduce a service called Central Listing Service, which will compete with Momentous in the domain name secondary market.

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CFIT, which was formed purely to fight this battle, claims that such a move would kill business models and would allow VeriSign to extend its dominance of .com to the secondary market, where it currently does not play.

Now that the request for the restraining order has been denied, CFIT will push for a preliminary injunction instead. A hearing has been set for February 10, 2006.

Momentous subsidiary Pool.com sued ICANN and VeriSign in Canada a couple of years ago when VeriSign proposed a service similar to CLS, but that case was put on hold. It may be reactivated shortly.

Here at the ICANN annual meeting in Vancouver, CFIT is a platinum sponsor. Everybody is walking around carrying bags bearing the legend CFIT: Keep .COMpetitive.

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