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Domain Registrars File Lawsuit Against ICANN

Members of the Domain Justice Coalition filed a lawsuit today requesting a temporary restraining order and other relief against ICANN to block the implementation of a domain name Wait Listing Service (WLS). The WLS was proposed by VeriSign, Inc. (pdf) and approved by ICANN in federal court in Los Angeles. The suit challenges ICANN’s failure to comply with its internal decision-making process requirements when it approved implementation of the WLS in the face of opposition from domain name registrars, resellers and consumers.

The lawsuit also claims that the scheduled WLS launch date of October 11 is already harming Coalition members by creating doubt among secondary market consumers who are concerned about the viability of the services they currently use.

A similar lawsuit was filed July 10 in the Ontario, Canada Superior Court of Justice by a Canadian Coalition member company, alleging anti-trust violations against ICANN.

The WLS will have a devastating impact on consumer choice in the secondary domain registration marketplace by creating one centralized service for the acquisition of expired domains, said Clint Page, Coalition leader, spokesperson and president of Dotster, Inc., a domain name registrar. In addition to the increased cost to consumers, the WLS will recreate the type of monopoly that VeriSign once had in the domain name market. It is our hope that the lawsuit filed today will result in an injunction against ICANN and the prevention of implementation of the WLS.

The lawsuit comes amidst increasing frustration with ICANN’s decision-making processes. On June 19, Reps. Brian Baird (D-WA) and Jay Inslee (D-WA) of the U.S. House of Representatives proposed legislation that, if passed, would authorize the General Accounting Office (GAO) to study the business practices of ICANN and of the domain name system. Further, it requests that a moratorium be placed on any action regarding the WLS until the GAO has submitted a report of its study findings to Congress. The bill is titled the Fair, Transparent, and Competitive Internet Naming Act of 2003, and is supported by the Coalition.

The Domain Justice Coalition has established a website, to educate the public on the WLS and to encourage consumers to write to their members of Congress and ask them to co-sponsor the legislation.

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