ICANN Moves to Dismiss Antitrust Charges

Gretchen Gallen
MARINA DEL REY, Calif. – Life hasn't been easy for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) this past year. A cluster of world governments are looking to take power from the Internet governing body, and antitrust squabbles with registrar VeriSign have landed ICANN in hot legal water.

But ICANN took aggressive steps early this week in a motion to dismiss, filed in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California. ICANN is claiming that VeriSign's antitrust allegations are false and that the lawsuit should be dropped.

VeriSign filed suit against ICANN at the beginning of March after several months of contention over its controversial SiteFinder and Waiting List Service, both of which ICANN suspended pending an investigation.

SiteFinder in particular had ruffled the feathers of many competing registrars, including GoDaddy.com and Popular Enterprises, parent company of Nester.com, which filed lawsuits last year against VeriSign for deceptive business practices.

SiteFinder redirects misspelled domain names to its own error page when a user mistakenly goes to a URL that does not exist. VeriSign redirects the user to SiteFinder, which presents a list of alternate addresses for sale through its registrar services.

After bitter complaints from VeriSign, ICANN eventually gave the greenlight to VeriSign's Waiting List Service pending a decision from the U.S. Commerce Department, but the governing body has still not issued a decision on SiteFinder.

VeriSign claims in its lawsuit that ICANN had "overstepped its authority" when it pressured VeriSign to shut down its Site Finder service.

"These claims should all be dismissed and be addressed only when and if VeriSign's interpretation of the contract is authoritatively established to be correct," ICANN stated in its motion.

ICANN has stated that it intends to file a second motion to dismiss other allegations in the lawsuit.