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Registrars urge rejection of VeriSign's .com deal

GoDaddy slams 'outrageous' agreement

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Nineteen internet companies, including Network Solutions, have asked ICANN’s Board of Directors to reconsider a controversial agreement giving VeriSign control of the .com top-level domain until 2012.

Domain name registrar GoDaddy has also petitioned the US Department of Commerce, which has yet to approve the agreement, asking that the deal be sent back to the ICANN Board.

"We will not sit back without a fight. This deal is outrageous. It's monopolistic because it locks in price hikes and eliminates good old-fashion competition. It's a mistake secretary (Carlos) Gutierrez can stop," GoDaddy.com CEO and founder Bob Parsons said.

His concerns relate to an agreement between ICANN, the body responsible for the internet’s domain naming system, and VeriSign, settling all pending legal action between the two and renewing the registry’s contract to run the .com registry.

The new deal permits VeriSign to increase the price of domain name registrations by 7 per cent in four of the next six years. In the two remaining years, VeriSign will only be able to raise prices if it can show the rises are necessary for security reasons.

It also gives VeriSign a presumptive right to renewal of the .com registry, on the proviso that it complies with certain aspects of the agreement.

ICANN's board voted 9 to 5 in favour of the agreement with one director abstaining, and is now facing calls to reconsider.

According to a petition lodged with the board by the 19 firms, the deal will have adverse consequences that are "far-reaching and permanent". The petitioners believe the agreement shows that ICANN has failed to foster a market with appropriate controls on .com registry pricing or to provide adequate regulatory oversight.

They call on the board to reconsider the agreement in the light of a new investigation by the Department of Justice into the registry market.

"The failure to consider material information concerning the potential adverse effects that the settlement would have on competition is contrary to ICANN’s core values and would be harmful to consumers," the joint filing says.

Separately, domain registrar GoDaddy has written to the Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Gutierrez, urging him to reject the agreement. A group of registrars, including GoDaddy, have also sent a joint letter to the Department of Commerce, asking that the agreement be sent back to the ICANN board.

See: GoDaddy letter (3 pages/1.3MB PDF).

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OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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