VeriSign Disputes Naviant Claim

VeriSign now is disputing a recent announcement about a new relationship with e-mail list giant Naviant, a deal that was positioned as a way to gather e-mail addresses from consumers and businesses registering domain names.

Thursday afternoon, Boca Raton, Fla.-based Naviant retracted a press release issued by its 24/7 Mail unit earlier in the morning, apparently at VeriSign’s request. Spokespeople previously had said the deal would mean Naviant would gain the opportunity to ask consumers and businesses that register or renew domain names with VeriSign whether they want to opt-in to receive e-mail marketing messages.

Now, however, sources close to the companies say the announcement had been premature, while declining to comment further. Spokespeople from VeriSign declined to describe the nature of its relationship with the e-mail list firm.

Such a deal would have amounted to Naviant potentially being able to add even more addresses to its already-staggering database of 39 million names: Mountain View, Calif.-based VeriSign’s Global Registry Services unit manages upwards of 13.6 million domains.

The announced agreement also included Naviant taking over 1.9 million B2B and consumer addresses from VeriSign.

The deal would have been one of the first signed with 24/7 Mail, which Naviant acquired in May from online ad network and server 24/7 Real Media .

Such an agreement would have made sense for VeriSign, as it comes on the heels of a widely-expected revenue and earnings warning, caused in large part by the slowdown in its registration business.

VeriSign has lately been making efforts to shore up its Global Registry Services unit. In recent months, the firm has been accused of using unscrupulous marketing tactics to encourage the subscribers of rival registrars into transferring their contracts to VeriSign, for a fee.

In June, registrar Go Daddy filed suit against the company, alleging that a VeriSign direct marketing campaign warned its customers about the imminent expiration of their domain name contract and that they should renew immediately — with VeriSign. (Go Daddy said that in many cases, its customers’ domain names were far from expiration.)

In previous months, BulkRegister, the not-for-profit California Consumers Action Network and a Los Angeles law firm filed lawsuits against VeriSign over the same campaign.

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