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Tucows responds to Namecheap’s lawsuit over domain transfers

Tucows suggests alternative methods of transferring domain names.

Enom’s parent company Tucows (NASDAQ: TCX) has filed its first response to a lawsuit brought by Namecheap last month.

Namecheap, an Enom reseller, wants Tucows to bulk transfer four million domain names registered to Namecheap customers that use the Enom platform. The company wants Tucows to transfer them in bulk in a so-called “Bulk Transfer After Partial Portfolio Acquisition” or BTAPPA.

This is a Verisign arrangement for transferring domains in bulk after a partial acquisition.

In a brief opposing Namecheap’s motion for leave to conduct limited discovery (pdf), Tucows says it is not opposed to transferring the domains. The issue is how the domains should be transferred. Tucows suggests a BTAPPA would be an “extraordinary and resource-intensive process”.

Tucows suggests a different transfer method, such as providing EPP codes or transferring them to Namecheap’s accreditation but hosting them on the Enom platform.

Unsurprisingly, Namecheap doesn’t like this idea. In response (pdf), it says:

Absent a bulk transfer, Namecheap customers are likely to face a high degree of confusion by suddenly and involuntarily finding themselves dealing with eNom/Tucows (with whom they have had no relationship) at the time of renewal rather than Namecheap (the service provider with whom they contracted), and being told to perform several tasks in order to be moved from eNom to Namecheap. Pursuant to ICANN’s transfer policy, they will also be required to extend the domain registrations for an additional one-year term (at an additional cost) in order to move to Namecheap’s platform. Some of those customers are also likely to encounter situations where the domain name expires before the transfer is completed, which may lead some domains to end-up being stuck in mandatory “grace periods” (with large fees for reinstatement), or even being deleted and thus available for someone else to register. Finally, recurring issues of instability and insecurity associated with the eNom platform pose a separate and ongoing risk of harm to the actual registrants of the VeriSign Domains (all of them Namecheap customers) for so long as they
remain under eNom’s sponsorship.

Namecheap argues that the clock is ticking. Under BTAPPA rules, Namecheap says the transfer must be completed this year.

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  1. kd says

    This is a mess. NameCheap wants it, ICANN has rules surrounding BTAPPA. They should go into ICANN compliance for not abiding by the BTAPPA and for saying “it would be resource intensive.” Their suggestion of doing it with auth codes would force all customers to wait 60 days for a inter-registrar lock. Huge pain and totally unacceptable.

    • JS says

      But according to that agreement non of the requirements is fulfilled, or?

      “Bulk Transfer After Partial Portfolio Acquisition (BTAPPA) is a registry service available to consenting registrars in the circumstance where, pursuant to VeriSign’s policies: (1) one ICANN-accredited registrar purchases (the “gaining registrar”), by means of a stock or asset purchase, merger or similar transaction, a portion, but not all, of another ICANN-accredited registrar’s domain name portfolio (the “losing registrar”) in the dot-COM top-level domain; or (2) a gaining registrar receives a request from a registrant to transfer a significant number of its domain names from a losing registrar to that gaining registrar.”

      So far I see it,
      (1) There is no purchase of a registrar
      (2) There is no registrant request

      • A Registrar says

        I have done BTAPPA before and it certainly can be done here.

        To do so namecheap simply needs a asset purchase agreement with tucows for the list of domains and pay tucows x per name.

        This then enables them to use the BTAPPA process.

  2. R P says

    The dangers of building your business as an affiliate (middleman) of another business. At some point the rug always get pulled out from under you if you are successful.

    I was forced to sell one of my businesses for same reason. Unfortunate but good business lesson.

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