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ICANN Takes Steps to Move VeriSign Contract Dispute from Litigation to Arbitration

12 November 2004

Marina del Rey (November 12, 2004) – ICANN has initiated efforts to enforce the arbitration clause of VeriSign’s .net Registry Agreement and move the VeriSign lawsuit into an international arbitration forum. ICANN has filed its demand for arbitration pursuant to the terms of the current .NET Registry Agreement and in response to litigation VeriSign re-initiated in a California state court following the US Federal District Court’s dismissal of its anti-trust allegations earlier this year. ICANN is hopeful that the arbitration proceeding will provide a quick and efficient resolution to the outstanding dispute between the parties. ICANN sent its arbitration demand to the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris which is designated within the current .NET agreement as the arbitration forum for disputes arising relating to the terms of that agreement.

In addition to ICANN’s arbitration demand, ICANN has filed today an answer to VeriSign's California state court complaint, and also a counterclaim asking the court to find that VeriSign is in breach of its .COM registry agreement with ICANN. ICANN has also asked the court to stay the .COM litigation initiated by VeriSign until the conclusion of the .net arbitration, since the arbitration will examine and resolve the same issues.

“ICANN's goal is to resolve this dispute as quickly and efficiently as possible, for the benefit of the Internet Community,” said John Jeffrey, ICANN’s General Counsel.

When VeriSign chose to file a lawsuit in federal district court in Los Angeles alleging antitrust violations by ICANN and seeking a declaratory judgment with respect to various disputes about the interpretation of the .com Registry Agreement, ICANN was not in a position to insist that those disputes be arbitrated. Subsequently, VeriSign's antitrust claims were dismissed with prejudice by the district court, which removed any jurisdictional basis for that court to resolve the contract disputes. VeriSign then re-filed its contract claims in state court.

ICANN remains aware that this is not a private dispute but one in which has a direct impact on the Internet Community, which has an important stake in the outcome of these matters. At the heart of this dispute is the form of agreement between ICANN and Verisign. Registry agreements provide for the Internet community (through ICANN) to oversee the operation of monopoly top level domains (TLDs) to ensure that they are operated for the benefit of the community. Through arbitration, ICANN expects to have the Registry Agreements terms affirmed, while minimizing the costs imposed by the litigation.

Request for Arbitration

Answer to Complaint

Motion to Stay

ICANN's Cross-Complaint

About ICANN

ICANN is an internationally organized, public benefit non-profit responsible for coordinating 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. For more information please visit: www.icann.org.

Media Contact: Media inquiries, please contact Kieran Baker, ICANN + 1-310-301-5801 or press@icann.org.