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Tech Industry

ICANN asks judge to toss out lawsuit

The organization says VeriSign's antitrust and breach of contract claims are based on "future contingencies."

A nonprofit organization tasked with overseeing Internet addresses and domain names has taken the first step in responding to an antitrust and breach of contract lawsuit that VeriSign filed in February.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) said in a 33-page motion filed late Monday that a federal judge in Los Angeles should throw out the lawsuit from VeriSign, which runs the master database for .com and .net.

"Disagreeing with VeriSign is neither an antitrust violation nor a breach of contract," ICANN said in its legal brief.

The suit claims that ICANN has transformed itself over the last six years from a modest technical coordinating body into the de facto regulator of the domain name system. One focus is VeriSign's now-suspended Site Finder service, which redirected expired or nonexistent .com and .net domains to the company's Web site. Last fall, ICANN ordered VeriSign to halt Site Finder, which had drawn fire from some network administrators and software developers who said it was disruptive.

ICANN's response says that VeriSign's antitrust, breach of contract and other claims "are not ripe" for a court to consider "because they depend on future contingencies" that may or may not take place.

ICANN General Counsel John Jeffrey said he plans to file a second motion Monday addressing the free speech aspects of the case.

Under its contract with ICANN, VeriSign operates the master database of all .com and .net domains and collects a few dollars a year for each domain name from the scores of ICANN-accredited registrars that sell domain names to the public.

The lawsuit comes as ICANN's control of Internet addresses and domain names--it is also in charge of adding new ones, such as .museum and .biz--is being challenged. At a United Nations summit last month, delegates from around the world suggested that developing countries do not have sufficient input into the way the Internet is operated.