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VeriSign, ICANN Settle Dispute

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The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the US Dept. of Commerce backed overseer of the Internet has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought on by VeriSign, the governor of all things .com and .net, over ICANN’s interference with VeriSign’s controversial Site Finder.

Under the agreement, VeriSign’s contract to control the master lists of dot-com domain will be extended until 2012. VeriSign runs .net as well under a contract that ends in 2011.

Site Finder was a service launched in 2003 to redirect web surfers who had misspelled web addresses to a list suggested matches rather than an error page. Critics complained this gave VeriSign an unfair advantage in search, especially since VeriSign sometimes accepted money for placement.

ICANN agreed with critics and pressured VeriSign to suspend the service. VeriSign filed suit shortly after claiming ICANN was unfairly interfering with their business.

VeriSign appears to have won the argument as ICANN has agreed to a non-monetary settlement (aside from $1.25 million legal reimbursement) that allows provisions for Site Finder under a new definition of “registry service” and the .com contract has been extended, subject to the approval of the Commerce Department. Under the agreement, ICANN’s management of domains will be more clearly outlined.

VeriSign says the agreement strikes an important balance of providing business certainty for registry operators while ensuring that ICANN can play and effective and clearly established role as technical coordinator.

“An agreement could not have been reached without both sides trying to find compromise and new solutions,” said Mark McLaughlin, Senior Vice President and General Manager of VeriSign’s Naming and Directory Services business unit.

“We are confident that this agreement accomplishes that objective and provides a framework for strong industry-ICANN partnership based on clear definitions and processes.”

VeriSign, ICANN Settle Dispute
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