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WLS Deemed Illegal by Registrar Coalition

ICANN's announcement of a "Special Meeting of the Board", to be held on February 18, 2004, includes a number of topics in its "Proposed Agenda” including: "WLS Negotiations with VeriSign". In reaction to this particular item related to WLS, Newman & Newman, the law firm representing an ad hoc coalition of ICANN-accredited domain name registrars, has sent a letter to Dr. Paul Twomey, President and CEO of ICANN expressing:

"We are aware the ICANN Board is scheduled to meet tomorrow, Wednesday, February 18, 2004 to discuss the proposed WLS. As ICANN's negotiations with VeriSign have been neither open nor transparent, we have no way of knowing the specific issues that the Board intends to cover. However, in the event the WLS is authorized as publically proposed, ICANN, VeriSign, and any registrars that offer the WLS will be in violation of numerous laws, some of which are summarized below. Accordingly, we request that the ICANN Board of Directors withdraw its approval of the WLS until such time as the issues raised herein have been addressed to our clients' satisfaction. Otherwise, our clients will take legal action to enjoin the WLS and recover any damages they may suffer."

As indicated in the above quote, the letter has pointed out that "WLS will be in violation of numerous laws" including:

1. The WLS violates the FTC act and state consumer protection laws
2. The WLS is an illegal lottery
3. The WLS is anti-competitive
4. The WLS defrauds consumers
5. ICANN places no competitive restrictions on VeriSign

The letter concludes that:

"Approval of the WLS should be withdrawn, or, at a minimum, delayed until such time as ICANN can: 1) solicit an advisory opinion from the FTC on the impact of the WLS on consumers; 2) prevent the sale of subscriptions to domains that are not scheduled to expire during the trial period; 3) prevent the sale of subscriptions to domains consisting of registered trademarks, 4) prevent the sale of subscriptions to current registrants of the domain names subscribed, and 5) impose meaningful limitations on Verisign's ability to use the WLS notwithstanding this letter, our clients will take all necessary measure to protect their interests."

For other related discussions on this issue see:

- ICANNWatch: "Registrar Coalition Threatens to Sue ICANN If WLS Approved"
- Lextext: "Registrars Send Demand Letter on WLS"
- CircleID Special Coverage: "Wait Listing Service Controversy"

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