VeriSign facing US$100 million legal battle

VeriSign facing US$100 million legal battle

Internet infrastructure service provider VeriSign has been hit with a US$100 million (AUD$147 million) lawsuit from Popular Enterprises, the parent company of search provider, who claim that VeriSign's new Sitefinder service breaches antitrust regulations and violates the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Popular Enterprises claim that the Sitefinder service allows VeriSign to monopolise unregistered .com and .net domain names to their own financial gain by redirecting all Internet traffic for these sites to pay-for-placement sights controlled by VeriSign. Popular Enterprises allege that if VeriSign are allowed to operate Sitefinder, it will profit from all Internet traffic directed to unregistered domain names, including thousands of domain names that VeriSign has refused to allow the public to register.

The suit also alleges that Sitefinder improperly interferes with other competing search systems, including Netster's own "SmartBrowse." Typically users are shown a generic "cannot be found" page when trying to access an unregistered domain. The SmartBrowse system identifies this error and prompts the user with other potentially related Internet sites and search options. Many Internet search companies, including Microsoft and AOL, offer a similar search function to their subscribers. However, the Popular Enterprises Complaint alleges that VeriSign's latest release effectively "hijacks" all Internet traffic and redirects them to VeriSign's own site. Existing businesses are left unable to use their technology, as the Sitefinder service bypasses these applications.

President of Popular Enterprises, William Marquez, said, "Rather than compete fairly in the search business, VeriSign has used its monopoly to hijack Internet traffic." Marquez went on to add that VeriSign is causing his business harm by intentionally redirecting users of Netster and other search companies that have established their own user base.

Popular Enterprises alleges that by using its control of domain name registration, VeriSign has refused to allow the registration of certain names that it has deemed obscene or otherwise undesirable to release into the public domain. However, Verisign has also refused registration for other common domain names such as,, etc. It is believed that the total number of potential domain names VeriSign has refused and/or will refuse to register ranges in the hundreds of thousands. Ironically, by using Sitefinder, Marquez said VeriSign will now capitalise on the very domain names it has refused to register by redirecting all Internet traffic to these sites.

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