VeriSign on losing end of appeal over registry contract.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has reversed a lower court decision throwing out an antitrust lawsuit by Coalition for ICANN Transparency (CFIT) against VeriSign (NASDAQ: VRSN). This means an antitrust lawsuit against VeriSign (NASDAQ: VRSN) can go forward, which may eventually mean lower .com domain name registration prices.
The plaintiff’s counsel was domain name attorney Bret A. Fausett of Adorno Yoss Alvarado & Smith. Fausett mentioned the lawsuit and pending appeal outcome during a Q&A session at DomainFest Global in Los Angeles earlier this year.
Reached by phone this afternoon, Fausett said the ultimate outcome could be a rollback in .com registration prices through a competitive bidding process, conceivably to just a few dollars per year. “For domainers, I’ve got to think that people are wondering ‘how fast can we get there?'” said Fausett. The case will likely now go back to trial.
The lawsuit made a number of claims, but chief among them was that VeriSign’s contract to provide .com domain names was anti-competitive. There was no open bidding process and the presumptive right of renewal means it will never be subject to competition.
The timing of this appeals court decision is critical, as one of the questions asked during the ICANN hearings on capitol hill yesterday was if the contract between ICANN and VeriSign was transparent. ICANN President & CEO Paul Twomey said it was because it was a matter of public record. Go Daddy General Counsel Christine Jones pointed out that the contract is public record, but the matter in which it was negotiated was not.
VeriSign has a number of appeal options that could delay a court date and thus any changes to .com registry pricing or management.
M. Menius says
In relation to the transparency issue, panelists (and the congressman) had to distinguish for Twomey the difference between “minutes” and a true transcript of the ICANN proceedings. Twomey persisted in saying ICANN offers “comprehensive minutes” (which is obviously just a summary), and his intentional side-stepping there drew some ire from the interviewing congressman who recognized Twomey was avoiding a very specific & easily answered question.
This seemed relevant since some of ICANN’s meetings are apparently closed thus creating questions about the hidden parts of their process, dialogue, and ultimate decisions. Christine Jones did a very good job of being specific and pointed, very balanced, but unyielding when needed.
Reece Berg says
I don’t suppose VeriSign will have to pay back all the money they’ve been ripping us off each year for so long? The incestuous relationship between ICANN and VeriSign is so obvious, it’s disgusting and it’d sure be nice to see someone put an end to all this corruption.
@Reece…..don’t count on it.
From Sept. 95′ to I believe some time in 98′ everyone was paying $100 for two year registrations, then a judge decided that $30 of the $100 fee was an illegal tax. Then domains dropped to $70 for two year registrations.
At the time I thought that maybe we might get some of that money back, but not a single word was even mentioned about it. I’m not sure why.
Ms Domainer says
It will only happen if some brave souls get together and file a class-action suit.
It can happen; I’m currently involved in a class action suit against Google (unrelated to domaining).
Andrew Allemann says
@ Ms. Domainer – I assume we need Fausett to win the suit, and then file a class action.
This is exciting news to hear. Just think of the impact this would have for those who own thousands of domains.
Am I missing something? VeriSign does get like $6.86 per domain registration??? is that really that much? and why would any person have thousands of domains? unless he is a squatter (in that case that person does not deserver any money back…IMO)
Searching thru the Internet I can’t find anything about .com/.net tld being down at all, so they are doing their job, have you folks heard of Project Titan?
Anyway, I know there are a lot of haters towards VeriSign so I’m pretty sure I will get flamed, but so far, I have not seen a reason why VeriSign is doing anything wrong.
Andrew Allemann says
@ Think – the reason this is an issue is that the contract VeriSign got wasn’t put out to competitive bidding. If it had, the price would have been no more than $5 per domain. Tops. Probably more like $2-$3.
Furthermore, Google has thousands of domains. I wouldn’t call them a squatter.
Ms Domainer says
A cybersquatter is someone who regs TM domains and then tries to sell them to the rightful TM holders (or make money through ads related to the TM).
People who own GENERIC domains are NOT squatters; they are called INVESTORS, much like real estate buyers who buy undeveloped land.
Most of us in the domaining business despise cybersquatting.
“Think” ? … I don’t believe you do.
You are squatting that name.
Immediately give it up to someone more deserving of that appellation.