9th Circuit remands antitrust claims against VeriSign

On 5 June 2009 the 9th Circuit reversed (in part) and remanded antitrust claims concerning the operation of the .com and .net domain name registries in a case brought against VeriSign (Coalition for ICANN Transparency, Inc. v. VeriSign, Inc, 567 F.3d 1084 (9th Cir. 2009)). VeriSign operates these registries pursuant to contracts with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Whereas the district court granted VeriSign’s motion to dismiss the claims, the 9th Circuit held that the plaintiff adequately stated .com related conspiracy and monopolization claims. In particular, the plaintiff adequately alleged that VeriSign and ICANN conspired to eliminate competition in the bidding for future contracts to administer the .com registry and that they further conspired to set artificially high prices for VeriSign’s services. The plaintiff also adequately alleged that VeriSign monopolized or attempted to monopolize the .com registration market by coercing ICANN into these agreements through various improper means.

The Court also remanded similar .net related claims and claims about attempted monopolization of expiring domain names. [Juha Vesala]