Geert Lovink on Fri, 19 Mar 1999 12:06:55 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> A Victory for Network Solutions (AP/Larry Neumeister)

A victory for Network Solutions By Larry Neumeister, Associated Press
Writer 03/18/99 08:24:00 AM

Judge says company has antitrust protection to retain its monopoly on
registering Net names for now.

NEW YORK -- Network Solutions Inc., the company that registers Internet
names as part of an agreement with the federal government, has antitrust
protection, a Manhattan federal judge ruled Wednesday. The decision by
U.S. District Judge Robert P. Patterson comes after other federal courts
have reached similar conclusions in challenges to Network Solutions
(Nasdaq:NSOL), which since 1993 has had sole governmental authority to
register names on the Internet. As the popularity of computers has
increased, the registering of names by companies seeking to sell and
advertise products over the Internet has become a key business strategy.
Wednesday's ruling against Manhattan-based PGMedia Inc. provides the most
thorough legal analysis to date of the right of Network Solutions to
retain its monopoly on registering Internet names for now. Victory may be
short-lived Patterson said the company, based in the Washington D.C.
suburb of Herndon, Va., is entitled to antitrust protection while it
operates on behalf of the government. The company was assigned its
registration tasks by the National Science Foundation. The judge also
ruled that the free speech rights of PGMedia were not violated because
Internet addresses are more like telephone numbers than speech. Network
Solution's victory however is likely be short-lived. In May, five
companies -- including Network Solutions, are scheduled to begin competing
in the rapidly-expanding business of registering Internet names.

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