Adding URS to .com could benefit Verisign for several reasons.
This week, Verisign (NASDAQ: VRSN) proposed creating a consensus policy that would bring Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) to all remaining gTLDs that don’t have it.
It was somewhat surprising. Verisign just renegotiated its .com contract with ICANN and did not add URS to the contract, while other registries added URS when renegotiating. Presumably, it was ICANN staff that asked for URS on those other agreements. So a conscious decision was made not to add URS to the .com contract when updating the agreement to allow price increases. Now, Verisign is in favor of URS.
It’s a tough question, and it isn’t easy to understand why Verisign makes some of the decisions it does. The company certainly plays the long game. Here are some reasons Verisign might benefit from adding URS.
1. It will make the U.S. government happy – In general, the U.S. government likes rights protections for intellectual property holders. When it amended its Cooperative Agreement with Verisign for .com, the U.S. government said that Verisign would consider adding “trusted notifier” programs. In fact, Verisign is currently operating a test of one such program to take down sites selling opioids.
2. It could remove Verisign from decision-making processes – In general, Verisign doesn’t want to get involved with decisions to suspend sites. It wants other entities, such as UDRP panels and courts, to make decisions. The registrars implement the decisions, and Verisign does so as a last resort. This removes all liability. URS puts a decision into a panel’s hands. When making the URS-on-com proposal this week, Verisign policy manager David McAuley noted:
Doing this — making URS consensus policy — would greatly enlarge application of what has become an important and effective tool for addressing trademark infringement and, in doing that, it also addresses other forms of abuse that can be carried along by infringing cybersquatting domains. And this includes technical DNS abuse like phishing, pharming, delivering malware, things like that, and also some forms of content abuse like selling counterfeit goods on a cybersquatted domain.
So, if outside policies managed by other entities apply to .com, Verisign can wash its hands of having to step in and take action against domains. It can tell advocates for removing, suspending, or transferring domain names that they should use the appropriate mechanism for doing so.
3. It makes .com more like other top level domains – Almost all other gTLDs have URS. Adding it to .com makes .com more like other top level domains. And there’s something about other top level domains that makes Verisign envious: they don’t have price caps. In the long run, Verisign can point to all of the similarities and the one glaring difference between the .com registry contract and other TLD contracts.