ICANN granted Verisign a contract that has no ability to end and has price increases that are baked into the contract forever. The new hope is an underdog watch group known as the “Coalition for ICANN Transparency, Inc.” (CFIT) that has filed a motion to declare the Verisign-ICANN contract a monopoly according to the Sherman Act. This is the third time they have brought the suit against ICANN and Verisign. The head lawyer on the case is Bret Fausett a sharp ICANN observer. There is not much hope that CFIT will win against such a titan, the other side has been able to get the case dismissed two times before, however I think the case is very strong and very accurate. The reason CFIT will face an up hill battle is because ICANN and Verisign have a lot of money to fight the lawsuit. Verisign has an extra $20 Million a year thanks to the contract and ICANN and VeriSign baked in a new ICANN fee that would be assessed on VeriSign and passed on to the registrars and ultimately passed on to consumers. This fee would result in excess of approximately $150 million dollars to ICANN over the contracted period of time and would be an end run around the existing ICANN budget approval process. The Court has already recognized that to eliminate competitive bidding violates the Sherman Act. The CEO of Tucows went on public record that they could provide DotCom registry services for $2 a name, which prompted the CEO of GoDaddy, the world’s largest registrar, to say that GoDaddy could do it for a dollar a name. Meanwhile the Chinese Registry CNNIC has figured out how to do provide global registry services for 13 cents a name per year. There is certainly a competitive market to run the DotCom registry.
The way the current contract reads Verisign has a monopoly and there is no way to break it. No other Registry can bid when the contract goes up for renewal. Prices will always go up and ICANN is mandated to continue renewing the contract. Verisign has a lock on ICANN and now owns the DotCom registry forever. The only hope we have is that the ICANN-Verisign contract is found to be a monopoly and a truly competitive bid is allowed on the Registry contract in the future.