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VeriSign, ICANN Settle Dispute

VeriSign reached an agreement with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) over a lawsuit filed by the company in 2004.

The Mountain View, Calif., company sued ICANN over the suspension of two services it was looking to provide, SiteFinder and the waiting-list service (WLS). Officials said the Internet governing body exceeded its authority for the blocks and filed suit at the U.S. District Court, Central District Court of California in February 2004.

Under the agreement, VeriSign agreed to introduce new services in a "clear, transparent manner" through ICANN before launching them worldwide. The company will also use the International Chamber of Commerce, rather than the courts, to settle its differences with ICANN over .com issues.

The two sides also agreed all proposed new services should take competition and security into account, as well as input from the Internet community, before new services by VeriSign are launched.

"This agreement settles many of the long-standing points of tension between ICANN and VeriSign," Paul Twomey, ICANN president and CEO, in a statement. "The settlement opens the way for a constructive and productive relationship between ICANN and VeriSign that will benefit the global Internet community, and further illustrates the benefits of a multi-stakeholder approach."

VeriSign officials said the settlement finds a balance between their respective positions, which will provide business clarity for top-level domain (TLD) registry operators and embrace a sensible market approach to registry pricing.

"An agreement could not have been reached without both sides trying to find compromise and new solutions," Mark McLaughlin, VeriSign senior vice president and naming and directory services general manager, said in a statement. "VeriSign's objective was to gain clarity and business certainty for Internet operators. We are confident that this agreement accomplishes that objective and provides a framework for strong industry-ICANN partnership based on clear definitions and processes."

The two organizations also agreed to extend the registry agreement for .com to 2012.

VeriSign has come under fire in years past for the two services it proposed to launch.

In January 2002, the company announced it would provide a waiting list service to potential domain names owners at the end of the existing contract with the current domain owner.

The service would have created a single waiting list for expiring domain names, which would have cut into the profits of registrars who provide the service themselves. After initially approving VeriSign's WLS proposal, ICANN suspended the service after registrars complained.

The second point of contention was over VeriSign's quiet launch of a wildcard service in 2003, which re-directed misspelled domain names -- www.Gooogle.com, for example -- to an advertising page at VeriSign. Officials said the service was a benefit for Internet users who would otherwise have been prompted to an error page on the Web browser. ICANN later demanded the service be shut down, which VeriSign did in October 2003.