BulkRegister Gets Injunction Against VeriSign

A judge in the U.S. District Court of the District of Maryland has called for a preliminary injunction against domain name giant VeriSign Tuesday, putting a halt to a marketing campaign many competitors called domain slamming.

“Essentially, VeriSign will need to stop their campaign immediately,” said a spokesperson from BulkRegister.com, the registrar that filed the lawsuit Monday.

Tom Cunningham, BulkRegister.com chief executive officer, said the judge’s decision is good news for more honest marketing practices in the future. The next step, he said, is assessing the damage already caused.

“It was found they were deceiving customers,” he said. “Now, the plan is looking at which customers were affected by the campaign, get their money back and switch them back to their original registrar. It’s going to take a while; since the majority of our customers are resellers, we’re going to have to go to them to find out how many were deceived.”

VeriSign mounted a marketing campaign in April to domain owners around the U.S., enjoining them to renew their domain name before it expired. The May 10 renewal process deadline came regardless of whether the owner’s domain was expiring or not. Competing registrars consider the “invoices” sent to its customers deceptive and called for a halt to the practice.

BulkRegister filed for an injunction and restraining order, saying the marketing campaign violated the Lanham Act and was false advertising.

VeriSign Spokesperson Pat Burns, after getting word of the injunction and restraining order Monday afternoon, said the company does not comment on legal proceedings, so it’s unclear what step the company might take to counter the injunction.

Cunningham said there was some worry VeriSign might file an emergency appeal to the decision, though it would likely fail because of the proof that shows the campaign practices were deceptive. In the future, they’ll have to abide by the letter of the law.

“They’ll have to be more forthright in the future,” he said. “The ruling prevents them and their third party partners from sending deceiving ads in the future.”

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