Relations between the two organisations have been frosty since VeriSign's surprise launch of the controversial Site Finder service in September 2003.
The service redirected surfers to VeriSign's Site Finder search engine when they entered a web address that was not registered on the internet or was inactive. It was heavily criticised at the time.
ICANN stepped in and, in the face of a threatened court action, VeriSign agreed to suspend the service. It sued five months later, alleging that ICANN had overstepped its contractual authority and improperly attempted to regulate VeriSign's business in violation of its charter and its agreements with VeriSign.
The case was later thrown out, but was subsequently re-filed in a California court. In the meantime, ICANN countersued.
Monday's agreements, which are still subject to the final approval of the ICANN board, provide for the settlement of all existing disputes between ICANN and VeriSign, coordination of planning where appropriate, and a commitment to binding international arbitration to prevent any future disagreements from resulting in costly and disruptive litigation.
Under the proposals, VeriSign will recognise the authority of ICANN and agree to a clearly defined process for the introduction of new registry services – including the prior approval of ICANN. The registry will also be granted control of the .com domain until 2012, and allowed to raise prices by 7% a year from 2007.
"This proposed agreement settles many of the long-standing points of tension between ICANN and VeriSign,” said Paul Twomey, President and CEO of ICANN. “The settlement opens the way for a constructive and productive relationship between ICANN and VeriSign that will benefit the global internet community, and further illustrates the benefits of a multi-stakeholder approach."