26 October 2005

Domain Names: ICANN and Verisign, Draft Settlement Agreement

Fascinating insight into the way Americans conduct civil litigation is available from the draft settlement agreement between ICANN and Verisign over the running .com registry. I must admit that I had not been following this dispute very closely so cannot comment on it. What I do find interesting is that a settlement agreement is exposed to public and purports to be subject to public approval. However, that is probably because ICANN is a strange hybrid of a private company attentive to the general public but nevertheless accountable in the last resort to the US Department of Commerce.

The main terms of the proposed settlement are that:
(1) Verisign shall announce its support for ICANN as the appropriate technical coordination body for the domain name system, in particular with respect to Internet domain names, IP address numbers, root server system management functions, and protocol parameter and port numbers.
(2) Verisign will not participate in, contribute moneys for, encourage or provide other support for any activities by or for third parties that seek to undermine ICANN's role as set out above;
(3) Any future disputes shall be resolved through negotiation, mediation and in the last resort arbitration;
(4) Existing proceedings will be stayed "with prejudice" (that is to say, they can't be reopened);
(5) Each party will pay its own costs.

Altogether, these are the sort of things I would expect to see in any sensible compromise.

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