Justice Department Reply

ICANN Bulk Transfer

I respond to your October 31, 2009, letter to the President, with a copy to the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. You suggest that ICANN’s Bulk Transfer After Partial Portfolio Acquisition rule, which establishes procedures governing the transfer of a portion of domain names from one registrar to another through an acquisition, may violate the Federal antitrust laws.   ICANN’s bulk transfer rule does not appear to violate the antitrust laws. The purpose of the rule is to protect registrants. The rule grants registrants greater rights than are typically available to customers when their contracts are acquired in a merger or acquisition.   ICANN provides registrants an opt-out option and also provides procedures for registrants to transfer to a different registrar if they object to the gaining registrar. The antitrust laws provide ICANN wide latitude to establish specific rules governing the relationship between registrars and registrants, including the number of days notice for a registrant to object to a transfer and the process for transferring expiring domain names.

James Tierney
Networks and Technology Section of the Antitrust Division
U.S. Department of Justice