The suit claims that when users search for the availability of a domain name through Network Solutions' website the company immediately registers the name for itself.
This prevents other registrars from selling the domain name and forces consumers to pay Network Solutions' fees. The process is known in the industry as 'front running'.
The federal class action lawsuit filed by Kabateck Brown Kellner in the US District Court, Central District of California also accuses internet authority Icann of facilitating the scheme.
"Imagine if you asked a car dealer if they had a black convertible and were then forced to buy the car from them. Would you get a good deal?" said Brian Kabateck, lead counsel in the suit and managing partner at Kabateck Brown Kellner.
"Each time someone asks Network Solutions about a domain name, the firm creates a monopoly for itself, forcing consumers to pay the price it demands."
Kabatek claimed that if a consumer were to go to another, cheaper site to register the name they would find it "unavailable".
The suit argues that consumers are not informed that inquiring as to a name's availability through Network Solutions results in the company holding a monopoly on selling that name.
The suit also claims that this allows Network Solutions to charge substantially higher prices for domain name registration.
Network Solutions charged US$34.99 to register the name sought by this lawsuit's lead plaintiff, whereas a competitor would have charged US$9.99.
Network Solutions named in class action suit
By Clement James on Feb 27, 2008 3:40PM