ICANN today announced that it has reached an proposed agreement to end all pending litigation over its long-standing dispute with VeriSign. The proposed agreement documents are being posted for public comment and are subject to final approval of the ICANN Board. This settlement will clear the way for a new and productive public/private partnership in coordinating technical management of the Internet's domain name system.
Commenting on the proposed agreement, Paul Twomey, President and CEO of ICANN said: "This proposed agreement settles many of the long-standing points of tension between ICANN and VeriSign. 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."
The proposed agreements between ICANN and VeriSign provide for the settlement of all existing disputes between ICANN and VeriSign, coordination of planning where appropriate, and commitment to binding international arbitration to prevent any future disagreements from resulting in costly and disruptive litigation.
Importantly, the creation of a clearly defined process for the introduction of new registry services is incorporated in a new .COM Registry Agreement. The agreement also extends the term of VeriSign's management of the world's oldest public registry .COM, and sets out better ways for ICANN and VeriSign to work together to promote stability and innovation of the Top Level Domain.
ICANN is an internationally organised, non-profit corporation that has responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain name system management, and root server system management functions. As a private-public partnership, ICANN is dedicated to preserving the operational stability of the Internet; to promoting competition; to achieving broad representation of global Internet communities; and to developing policy appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes.
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Initial Questions and Answers
1. What does this mean for the lawsuits between ICANN and Verisign?
Pending public comment and full approval by the ICANN board, the proposed agreement settles many long standing points of tension between VeriSign and ICANN which have adversely affected the broader Internet community. It eliminates all pending litigation between the two parties, and - importantly for the community - more ICANN staff and resources can be devoted to ICANN's core functions, rather than to litigation with VeriSign over the terms of the .com registry agreement. In the future, in the event of a disagreement relating to the .com registry agreement, both sides will be able to make use of binding arbitration under the International Chamber of Commerce.
2. What does this mean for future registry services VeriSign might introduce?
The proposed agreement outlines a clearly defined process for the introduction of new registry services in .COM. VeriSign agrees that all new registry services will be reviewed by ICANN prior to introduction through a transparent, defined and timely process.
Under the proposal, VeriSign and ICANN are agreeing to clear definitions and processes for review that further advance the stability and security of the DNS:
- VeriSign agrees to a new, clarified definition of registry services;
- VeriSign agrees not to make changes to registry services without prior notice;
- VeriSign agrees to put new registry services through an appropriate filter for competition, security and stability; this process strikes the right balance between innovation and business certainty and the need to ensure competition, security and stability in the DNS;
- VeriSign and ICANN agree to solid technical definitions of potential effects on "security" and "stability";
- A standing panel of International neutral technical experts will review proposed changes to registry services for potential security and stability issues;
- Competition issues will be referred to appropriate governmental competition authority/authorities; the proposed agreement clarifies ICANN's role and recognizes that determination of whether a registry's action is competitive or anti-competitive is an appropriate function of existing national bodies; and
- The agreement includes compulsory arbitration using the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) in Paris, which is appropriate for an international organization such as ICANN.