Pool.com, a leading provider of Web domain name backordering services, today announced a new “Open Listing Service” (OLS) to provide ICANN-accredited registrars of any size and any registrant the opportunity to sell or buy domains for the highest value and with the best rights protection in a competitive, open-market, open-architecture environment. The OLS is a technology platform and set of market services that support the resale, auctioning and re-registration of domain name addresses.
“We are moving from solely being a customer-facing backordering services company to one providing an open, back-end technology platform,” said Taryn Naidu, general manager, Pool.com. “We are offering registrars of any size a centralized location to list their domains for sale and the ability to develop their own, unique interface for their customers.”
The OLS breaks new ground in the vibrant backordering business. But not only does the new service meet the needs of an increasingly sophisticated market, it is in sharp contrast to proprietary solutions likely to be offered by the largest registrars.
“When Network Solutions announced a month ago it would retain expired domain names and not release them into the open market, it sought to impose a system that will unfairly extend the value of the near-monopoly it enjoys over ‘.com’ addresses,” Naidu said. Network Solutions is owned in part by VeriSign, the sole ICANN-appointed registry for the “.com” top level domain (TLD) address.
The OLS is designed to maximize domain name holder value, while encouraging similar levels of rights protection and transparency afforded by practices such as the Redemption Grace Period and Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Process instituted over the years by ICANN and such groups as WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization.
From a legal standpoint, the news from Network Solutions is another attempt by VeriSign and its affiliates to undermine a free market. The unilateral change in policy was one of a number of reasons Pool.com, along with 99 other plaintiffs, sued VeriSign last month for damages in excess of $150 million.
The lawsuit and the launch of the Pool.com OLS are separate matters moving down the same path, said Naidu. “If ICANN had said ‘no’ as it should have to VeriSign’s anti-competitive actions, the suit would not be necessary. But, in fact, on September 21, the organization issued an advisory that seemed to endorse the move.” Naidu based his opinion on ICANN saying that Network Solutions needed only to modify its registrant agreement to qualify as consent required.
In contrast, the Pool.com OLS builds back in consumer protections that the Network Solutions’ plan will eliminate.
“Right now, there is a redemption grace period (RGP) that gives trademark and TLD rights holders the opportunity to maintain a Web address that may expire,” Naidu said. “The Pool.com OLS will encourage participating registrars to commit to a 30-day hold on re-sale and thereby emulate the protections afforded by the RGP.”
Naidu added that such an approach respects the trademark and copyright laws that could be undercut by the Network Solutions proposal.
Pool.com is currently in discussion with a number of registrars who recognize the value of an open alternative. The company said that as registrars join the OLS, it will generate the kind of productive network effect seen on the Internet itself.
“A monopoly position cannot withstand the power of innovation,” Naidu said. “The OLS gives every registrar the opportunity to deliver real value for its customers and its shareholders without any loss of control.”