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Embittered Registrars Sue Embattled ICANN

July 15, 2003

A coalition of domain name registrars filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Marina del Rey, Calif.-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) seeking to block the launch of VeriSign's global waiting list for domain names. 

A group of approximately 23 URL registration companies calling itself "The Domain Justice Coalition" say ICANN's approval of the proposed wait listing service, or WLS, violates ICANN's terms of agreement with registrars and gives VeriSign an unfair advantage. 

Under an agreement with ICANN, VeriSign keeps track of the registered owners of domain names that end in .com and .net. Registrars collect money from consumers (which can be either individuals or businesses), handle the digital paperwork involved in assigning them their chosen domains, and pay a registration fee to VeriSign. Registrars compete with each other on price and promotions such as two years' worth of registration for the price of one. 

It gets trickier when a consumer wants a domain name that's already taken. Many registrars offer what they call back-order services. For a fee, the registrar will keep track of when the desired domain name will expire and try to immediately register it for the customer. 

Each day, domain names are deleted from VeriSign's registry in a batch of about 25,000, according to Christine Jones, general counsel for GoDaddy, a coalition member. The registrars know the names that will be deleted but not the actual time the deletion will take place. 

"We match up our back orders and try to get those names. It takes fractions of a second to go from delete to register," Jones said. "Each registrar writes its own software that keeps pinging the registry. The one that happens to ping the registry immediately after deletion wins the backordered name." 

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