A lawsuit seeking class action status has been filed in the
United States District Court for the Central District of California against Network
Solutions and ICANN. The suit arises under Network Solutions’ practice of
“holding” domain names for a set period of time after a potential registrant
searches for the names. If the potential registrant does not immediately purchase
the name Network Solutions itself will register the name, and “holds” it for
about four days, allowing the potential registrant to register the name at
Network Solutions, but preventing a potential registrant from registering the
name anywhere else during the four day period.
A copy of the complaint is here. The suit seeks injunctive
relief, asking that Network Solutions cease the practice, as well as
unspecified damages. The complaint seeks to certify a class of:
All persons or entities in the United States who searched for the
availability of a domain name through Network Solutions and subsequently
registered that domain name through Network Solutions.
The suit’s first burden will be certification of the
proposed class. The Plaintiff makes suitable arguments for typicality of
claims, commonality of issues, and numerosity. This means that the class has
enough people, all the proposed members of the class are similarly factually
situated, and that the legal issues relevant to each person are common to
others in the class. A plaintiff must prove all three elements for a court to
certify a class action.
Even where a class may be certified in this action, no one
should expect a check in the mail as a result of this suit. The best possible
result for the Plaintiff will likely be an injunction preventing the practice
of holding names in the future. More likely, the parties will settle by reaching an agreement out of court, though it remains to be seen if Network Solutions would be willing to entirely eliminate the process without a court order.