VeriSign sued over Site Finder
Popular Enterprises is seeking $100M in damages
IDG News Service - An Internet search company has sued VeriSign Inc. over a widely criticized service that sends Web users to a VeriSign search page after entering a nonexistent Web address (see story).
Popular Enterprises LLC in Orlando, operator of the Netster.com search site, is seeking an injunction barring VeriSign from running the Site Finder as well as damages of up to $100 million, it said in a statement yesterday.
VeriSign controls the main database of .com and .net domain names. On Monday, the Mountain View, Calif., company added a "wild card" to the databases, sending Web users who enter a nonexistent .com or .net address to Site Finder, a new VeriSign search service.
Popular Enterprises accuses VeriSign of antitrust violations, unfair competition and violations of the Unfair Trade Practices Act, according to the statement. The suit was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Besides offering a search Web site, Netster also offers a search tool-bar product called SmartBrowse that helps users after they enter a nonexistent domain. VeriSign has now "hijacked" that traffic, according to Popular Enterprises.
"They are using the whole universe of unregistered domains as their own profit pool and are scooping up all that business by no effort of their own, just by virtue of their position," said Chris Hill, a partner at Scarborough and Rugh in Orlando, which represents Popular Enterprises.
VeriSign's Site Finder has drawn a storm of criticism and caused some antispam filters to malfunction. Uproar among network administrators prompted the Internet Software Consortium to update its popular BIND (Berkeley Internet Name Domain) DNS (Domain Name System) software so Site Finder can be blocked.
Popular Enterprises expected to serve VeriSign with the suit today, Hill said.
VeriSign said it could not comment on the suit because it has not yet received it. However, spokesman Brian O'Shaughnessy did say that while VeriSign has no intention of pulling the Site Finder service, the company is actively engaging with the industry to address issues and concerns and improve the service.
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