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Lawsuit targets Network Solutions, ICANN over the ‘front running’ of domain names

Filed under: Miscellaneous — spiderwebwoman at 7:04 pm on Monday, February 25, 2008

This one was as predictable as lawsuits ever get: A Los Angeles firm this afternoon has announced a class action against Network Solutions and ICANN over the former’s practice of locking up domain names as soon as they are searched for on its site, which means the party searching can buy the name only from Network Solutions.

The practice has been highly controversial and now lawyers at Kabateck Brown Kellner are tossing around words such as “defraud” and “scheme.” They’re also suing ICANN for failing to stop what is known in the industry as “front running.”

From the press release:

Network Solutions has forced millions of people to buy Internet domain names from them instead of cheaper competitors through a scheme that’s netted the firm millions of dollars, a federal class action lawsuit filed today by Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP states. ICANN, whose policies facilitate the scheme, is also named in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court, Central District of California.

Lawsuit targets Network Solutions, ICANN over the ‘front running’ of domain names | NetworkWorld.com Community

1 Comment


   Enrico S

February 26, 2008 @ 11:56 am   

Click on the link above to see an analysis of the issues.

I agree that Network Solutions’ business plan to “reserve” all available name search queries was questionable from an ethics and business point of view. I, for one, am surprised that Network Solutions and ICANN have been sued in a class action format.

I originally posted about potential consumer protection liability related to NSI’s reserve policy here, but NSI quickly modified it’s policy and provided adequate notice on its web site in order to inform consumers that it would be reserving searched domains. That post is found here

Consumer protection lawsuits are all about misrepresentation and “deception.”; Once Network Solutions posted notice on its web site that it would be engaging in this particular business practice, it is hard to imagine how consumers would argue they were “deceived.”

As far as ICANN liability, the only possibility is an argument that Network Solutions was violating the accreditation agreement with ICANN and ICANN failed to follow-up on that known violation. However, I have not seen any good analysis on the Internet which suggests that a violation of policy did occur.

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