VeriSign Loses ICANN Lawsuit

Gretchen Gallen
MARINA DEL REY, Calif. – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers claimed victory in a legal battle with domain registrar VeriSign after a federal judge dismissed claims that ICANN had misused its power as the Internet's governing body.

The judge's decision concludes two attempts by VeriSign to prove antitrust allegations against ICANN. The registrar first filed a lawsuit in February against ICANN claiming that the governing body had acted unfairly when it requested that VeriSign disable its controversial Site Finder service after a flood of complaints from Internet users.

A judge for the U.S. District Court for the Central District dismissed VeriSign's first lawsuit in May and has now tossed out the registrar's amended complaint that in disabling Site Finder, ICANN's board of directors had been acting on behalf of VeriSign competitors.

"There is nothing inherently conspiratorial about a 'bottom-up' policy development process that considers or even solicits input from advisory groups," Judge A. Howard Matz stated.

VeriSign unveiled Site Finder in October of 2003. The service was designed to launch a pop-up window on a user's screen when a website URL did not exist and then redirect that traffic back to the VeriSign website.

SiteFinder 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.

ICANN ordered the search service shut down for a technical review claiming Site Finder was a potential threat to the stability of the Internet. However, VeriSign claimed that ICANN had failed to prove that its service was detrimental in any way.

"The US federal court's decision serves as another important affirmation of ICANN's multi-stakeholder participatory model, and reaffirms the ICANN structured," ICANN's general counsel John Jeffrey said in a statement. "ICANN is not subject to capture by any commercial or other interest, including VeriSign."

According to reports, VeriSign has the option of refiling the case in state court.