Domain name industry experts have been voicing their opinions about ICANN’s proposed legal settlement with Verisign, which gives Verisign control of the .com registry through 2012. With ICANN’s Vancouver meeting starting in just two days, a group of businesses have filed a lawsuit claiming the settlement violates US Antitrust laws.
I’m opposed to the settlement for a number of reasons, but using US antitrust law as the wrench is an old argument. A lawyer for the plaintiffs says that the agreement fixes the registry cost of .com domain names at above market rates. But this has always been the case. The registry is awarded to a company based on more than just price and you can’t have more than one registry manager for a given domain extension. I suspect that many of the companies behind this lawsuit are alternative registries (e.g. Afilias). Success by the plaintiffs would nullify most existing registry agreements–including the current .com agreement with Verisign, which has a guaranteed renewal provision.