Verisign believes ICANN will now sign the .web contract with Nu Dot Co, and then transfer the domain to Verisign.
Verisign has announced that the antitrust investigation into the company’s plans to run the .web domain name has been closed, apparently without taking action. In an SEC filing, the company stated:
As the Company previously disclosed, on January 18, 2017, the Company received a Civil Investigative Demand from the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) requesting certain material related to the Company becoming the registry operator for the .web gTLD. On January 9, 2018, the DOJ notified the Company that this investigation was closed. Verisign previously announced on August 1, 2016, that it had provided funds for Nu Dot Co’s successful bid for the .web gTLD and the Company anticipates that Nu Dot Co will now seek to execute the .web Registry Agreement with ICANN and thereafter assign it to Verisign upon consent from ICANN.
Verisign backed Nu Do Co’s winning $135 million bid for .web. Other applicants for .web believe that ICANN incorrectly overlooked changes at Nu Dot Co and asked for the auction to be set aside. Runner-up Afilias asked ICANN to honor its second-place bid while Donuts wanted the result tossed with the hopes of having a private auction in which the losers split the proceeds.
Concurrently, the U.S. government looked into antitrust issues with the .com operator also running .web. It’s possible they were looking into if the company’s bid for .web was merely a way to quash the domain, which many new TLD operators think could be the best new TLD. It could have also looked into if owning .com and .web would allow Verisign to dominate the market (more than it already does with .com).
Despite the U.S. government’s clearance, there’s still a dark cloud over .web. Donuts sued ICANN and the case was thrown out but Donuts appealed. The appeals court is currently considering the matter.