GoDaddy Sues VeriSign, Google Dropping Spam Sites and Passing out the PageRank Penalties

Interesting news, but not directly related to search engine optimization or search engines in general: VeriSign is being sued because of all those emails they sent to people who had registered domains with companies like GoDaddy. Basically, they sent out emails warning domain name holders that their names were about to expire, and instructing them to renew their listing by buying a service from VeriSign. The problem was, they sent these emails to people who’s domains were not about to expire. We got plenty of them. Here’s the story:

VeriSign Used False Ads, Suit by Rival Asserts
Mon May 13, 5:12 PM ET
By Andy Sullivan
Originally posted at

Reuters Internet Reports
VeriSign Used False Ads, Suit by Rival Asserts
Mon May 13, 5:12 PM ET
By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Internet domain-name seller VeriSign Inc. was hit with a lawsuit filed on Monday by a rival that charged VeriSign with using false advertising to steal customers.

BulkRegister, a domain-name seller based in Baltimore, said it had sued VeriSign in federal court to stop a direct-marketing campaign that sought to trick owners of domain names into switching their accounts to VeriSign.

VeriSign’s campaign has also drawn protests from other domain-name sellers, which allow Internet users to reserve names like on a yearly basis.

According to BulkRegister and other name sellers like GoDaddy Software, VeriSign has since April been mailing out thousands of “domain name expiration” notices that imply that domain-name owners could lose control of their name if they do not return the form along with $29 by May 15.

As a result, domain-name owners could end up renewing their names prematurely, paying higher annual fees and suffering with inferior customer service, said Tom D’Alleva, vice president of marketing for BulkRegister.

The practice could also render the customer’s Web site useless because it could disrupt other services like Web hosting, D’Alleva said.

“I don’t understand why a major company would indulge in this,” D’Alleva said.

The notices violate a U.S. law that requires mail solicitations to be clearly marked, said Patrick O’Brien, a lawyer who filed the suit for BulkRegister.

A VeriSign spokesman declined to comment on the litigation, and said he disagreed with BulkRegister’s assessment of its marketing campaign.

The once-hot domain name market has cooled since the height of the dot-com bubble, when names such as fetched prices as high as $7.5 million.

Despite the introduction of new “top level” domains like .biz and .info, the total number of domain names has shrunk by 6 percent from its 2001 peak to 29.5 million, according to “State of the Domain,” an industry report.

VeriSign, the No. 1 domain-name seller, recently announced layoffs of 10 percent of its work force after posting a quarterly loss of 9 cents per share. Its stock closed at $10.01 per share Monday, off 85 percent from its 52-week high of $67.94.

A Canadian company last month agreed to pay $375,000 to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it duped Internet domain-name holders into needlessly buying similar-sounding names.

There’s also an interesting article about Google:

Nettrends: Google Faces Tricky Challenge Managing Success
May 15, 2002 02:08 PM ET
Page No Longer Available
Originally posted at

Domain Names,