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First RIPE NCC “Seizure of IPv4 Addresses” – Is This the Beginning of IPv4 as Collateral?

In a publication released on October 2, 2020, RIPE NCC reported its first seizure of IPv4 registration rights pursuant to a Dutch court order. Pursuant to the order, RIPE NCC effectuated a transfer of the IP Addresses from the liquidating debtor to its creditor. Although these IP Addresses could not be owned, they were apparently not legacy. Thus, they conferred no “property rights”—the registration rights were deemed an enforceable right that has value and were to be utilized towards satisfaction of a judgment.

RIPE NCC provided specific guidance for future cases:

In summary, the RIPE NCC will only comply with court orders for the seizure of the right to registration of IP addresses for the recovery of money that:

  1. Has entered into force and is recognised by the Dutch courts.
  2. Be served by a bailiff in advance on the RIPE NCC in the form of an authentic enforceable document (e.g. a court order).
  3. Specifically mention the RIPE NCC and create an obligation for the RIPE NCC to perform the transfer. (i.e. the enforceable title must apply specifically to the RIPE NCC). This does not mean the RIPE NCC needs to be named as a defendant.
  4. State the specific resources at issue.

Finally, it’s worth noting that each order will be reviewed on a case by case basis. If we believe that an order or the third party seeking to enforce the order does not comply with RIPE policies or RIPE NCC procedures, we reserve the right to dispute any transfer.

In any event, this development certainly raises many questions:

  1. Will other Regional Internet Registries follow the same protocol?
  2. Once “registration rights” can be seized to satisfy a judgment, will lenders be comfortable taking those rights as collateral? Will there be direct lending for the purchase of IPv4 addresses, thereby providing more liquidity in the IPv4 market?
  3. What can a lender do to protect against the borrower transferring the IPv4 addresses before the loan is repaid?

It would seem that, subject to a lender getting comfortable with terms and procedure, that this should open the door to more direct lending with IP addresses as collateral.

Do you have thoughts?

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