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Verisign blasts ICANN over proposed registry agreement

Verisign says unilateral right to amend is alive and well in proposed contract.

ICANNVerisign senior vice presidents Pat Kane and Richard Goshorn have sent a letter to ICANN blasting the inclusion of amendment right clauses in the proposed new registry agreement.

In the sometimes snarky letter, Verisign claims that ICANN’s unilateral right to amend the new gTLD agreement is alive and well, despite some changes to language in the latest version.

Verisign’s interests lie not just in the new TLD contracts it will sign, but also in its existing agreements. It runs .com and .net.

ICANN will no doubt claim that this broad power, as well as specific uses of that power to change contracts, will become part of all registry agreements upon their renewal. Common provisions of other registry agreements are incorporated into renewal agreements under the presumptive renewal provision of existing registry agreements.

The company suggests that ICANN isn’t playing fair with these last minute additions to the contract.

Perhaps fittingly, ICANN has attempted to place these new powers for itself in registry agreements after thousands of applications have been filed, and millions of dollars paid to ICANN, to secure new TLDs.

That ICANN is changing the contract at the 11th hour is a common (and understandable) complaint by many new TLD applicants.

Verisign includes examples of how ICANN could change the contract on its own within the contract terms.

– Amend the agreement to re-impose a ban on cross-ownership between registries and registrars
– Determine that no new TLDs should be operated in a closed manner
– Require registrants be cleared though law enforcement databases at cost to registries
– Make the trademark clearinghouse permanent and raise fees

It calls some of the requirements prior to amending the contract “window dressing”, and says the changes are the antithesis of bottom up policy.

(hat tip @mneylon)

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