Network Solutions And ICANN Both Sued For Allowing Domain Front Running

from the as-expected dept

Back in January, it was revealed that Network Solutions was involved in the rather sleazy practice of registering up any domain you searched for through its search engine, and holding onto it for five days -- unless you bought it through them only. Since Network Solutions charges more than most other registrars, but is generally considered more "trustworthy" as a place to search for domain names, this was a pretty big deal. Lots of people search at NetSol and then register elsewhere -- so by holding on to the domains and forcing you to pay NetSol's inflated prices seemed like a scam. In fact, it seemed quite similar to the sleazy practices of questionable registrars, Network Solutions actually tried to claim it was actually to protect against those questionable registrars. ICANN, reprising its usual role as being powerless to do anything useful, promised to look into the matter, and promptly claimed that Network Solutions was doing nothing wrong. Many people feel otherwise, so it's hardly a surprise to find out that both Network Solutions and ICANN have been sued by lawyers attempting to create a class action suit over the activity. Whether or not it deserves a class action lawsuit is a separate discussion, but it's still difficult to understand how NetSol could possibly think this is a good idea or one that would be welcomed by anyone.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    johndifo, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 3:25am

    1and1 does even worse it sells you the domain but do not register it at ICANN, then ask for a refund and explain that to the brainless mutant alien people at their support center. good luck. I mean good luck.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous jerk, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 3:53am



    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    TX CHL Instructor (profile), Feb 26th, 2008 @ 4:10am

    Better registrar...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Adam, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 4:11am

    Class action?

    I would say so. This is an anti-competitive action. They are abusing a dominant market position and restraining trade. As well - although the many individuals affected have lost only tens to hundreds of dollars, NSI has made millions if not hundreds of millions - one of the reasons why class actions exist...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Tim, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 5:13am



    I have never had a problem with 1and1. 3 of my clients are currently using them as host and registrar with nary a problem between them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Jim, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 5:24am

    Got me too!

    In October of 2005, I searched NetSol for a domain and within days, someone had registered it with NetSol's privacy feature. I'm not talking about about a common name, but a unique company name. I find it hard to believe someone else was planning to use this name. I believe either NetSol, or some possibly connected third party was logging searches and registering searched domains in the hopes they could sell the domain throught NetSol's Certified Offer Program. Of course, this means offer fees that go to NetSol. Oh, and "Note: The Certified Offer amount must be over $100 USD." In the meantime, they collect per click revenue on bullsh*t search. Just because they put up a page doesn't mean they're not squatting. These people are scumbags.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    DFS, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 5:52am

    NetSol has gotten me several times

    Drives me nuts, client does a search, then tells me what name they want, I go to 1&1 to buy it for them, and boom... it's registered to Network Solutions. My $7 domain turns into a $35 pain in the rump.

    I hate Network Solutions. I hope they're forced to stop this crap.

    And by the way, I have almost 100 clients with domains on 1&1 and like Tim, never had a problem either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Michael McCullough, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 6:03am

    what goes around

    unfortunately most of us already realize this about netsol.
    play their game find your website then sit on it for 5 days; otherwise if you want a cheaper rate then find one (like godaddy) then call netsoll and register the domain vs online. they will negiotate!
    you said it right SleazeSolutions; mayby someone should get that website and have it point to netsol!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Nick Overstreet (profile), Feb 26th, 2008 @ 6:17am

    Network Solutions needs to be stopped

    I've had many dealings with NS over the years and none of them have ever been pleasant. All of their prices are higher then other providers and their service has been terrible.
    When the domain front running news broke in January I swore to never do business with them again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Bob, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 6:24am


    Why is netsol still priced that way? How does this work for them to be priced at 5 times the best rate available for the -exact?- product?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Richard, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 6:41am

    it's not right

    This along with the domain tasting by netsol and others... I feel confident this bogus business model will end if the ICANN fee becomes non-refundable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 6:47am

    I completely agree,I hav had a real bad experience.
    Today the domain was available,tomorrow morning the domain is gone ....the registrar blocked the domain before i could register it.
    Should be sued to the fullllllll

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    VirginWool, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 6:49am

    NetSol Fun

    So why not look up doamins at GoDaddy, or 1and1? Why even bother with NetSol?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Paul, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 7:24am

    Happened to me

    Went to buy, but saw it cost a total of $45, so before completing the sale, I went to GoDaddy only to find it bought by NetSol. So, I bought through NetSol out of fear it not being available later.

    Crazy. I plan to transfer it later

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Phil, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 7:42am


    So the first question is if your other domain registars are so much better then NetSol then why are you not using their WHOIS features?

    Registering domain names for the past 13 or so years I have come to realize NetSol cost more becuase you get what you pay for with no headaches. Yes they cost more but so does a Porsche over a Geo. You want more features, better service then you spend the money.

    I have never had a hard time dealing with them, never had a domain name issue and never worry that they will close shop and my names become worthless.

    Yeah lets register with godaddy and call in for some tech support then get the sales pitch instead of tech support. Never understood why all their tech support people get paid on sales.. "Oh you want that feature to work then you need to buy this product instead"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 8:21am

    All domains registrars are same,they block the names,up the price,register it for 2 years, wait if there is a bid, iam sure somebody desperately lookin for the domain name,will pay good money .
    To register a website best thing wud be to have a list of websites names u hav in mind,check for alternatives,register them on the same day by online.

    Simple and clear :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    JoeyT, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 8:24am

    This happened to me

    I searched for an available domain name on netsol and then went to finally register it elsewhere the next day only to find out that netsol had "owned" it now. Jerks. I HAD to buy it from them if I wanted the site name. And the register info said they'd hold onto it for a year, not for 5 days. So, not sure which is correct. I'll never use them again, that's for sure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Enrico S., Feb 26th, 2008 @ 9:28am

    Network Solution's and ICANN liability

    I agree that Network Solutions’ business plan to “reserve” all available name search queries was questionable from an ethics and business point of view.  I, for one, am surprised that Network Solutions and ICANN have been sued in a class action format. 

    I originally posted about potential consumer protection liability related to NSI’s reserve policy here, but NSI quickly modified it’s policy and provided adequate notice on its web site in order to inform consumers that it would be reserving searched domains.  That post is found here

    Consumer protection lawsuits are all about misrepresentation and deception.  Once Network Solutions posted notice on its web site that it would be engaging in this particular business practice, it is hard to imagine how consumers would argue they were “deceived.”

    As far as ICANN liability, the only possibility is an argument that Network Solutions was violating the accreditation agreement with ICANN and ICANN failed to follow-up on that known violation.  However, I have not seen any good analysis on the Internet which suggests that a violation of policy did occur. 

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 10:50am

    Go domain searching like mad!

    Ok, this is something that I've always suspected which is why I would always use the most arcane methods of seeing if a domain is taken.

    Just for giggles I just started, and then canceled, the process of buying and from network solutions... $35/year my butt! Anyway, I'm sure they are actively registering those now.

    Maybe if everyone goes to their site and looks for some stupid random string of characters it will screw with their system? Just an idea. ;-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Harold Bush, Feb 27th, 2008 @ 2:38pm


    There is absolutely no need to use netsol for anything. GO Daddy or Dotster will allow anyone to do a whois. If you don't trust them (using dotster since 1997) get your own free whois - here is the tiny url
    I used Network Solutions prior to 1997 and they were even worse than they are today. Privatization is a great idea - this is the real world example.

    Support ASCII Art! and Don't kick over the bit bucket!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Shashi Bellamkonda, Jun 20th, 2008 @ 6:28am

    NetSol Listens... AndActs

    I work at Network Solutions. We know how important this issue is for everyone, and not only did we listen, we're acting. I want to say that we are not acting in a "sleazy" fashion, and that there are serious aspects to the matter, like domain tasting policies that create some nuances.

    Next week ICANN can vote an important issue to resolve to resolve front running for once and for all. Network Solutions is advocating that ICANN acts now, and we have published an official statement on our web site to that end.

    Please excuse this URL, but given the seriousness of this issue, it was appropriate to provide a link:


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Jeremy, Dec 23rd, 2008 @ 11:57am


    Wow, you only move after getting sued... Tells me how to solve issues! Screw tech support!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.