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O.com might be coming, along with other single letter .com domain names

ICANN moves forward with Verisign plan to auction O.com domain name.

Single letter .com domain names are very rare. They aren’t just limited to the 26 letters of the alphabet; there are just three.

Verisign (NASDAQ:VRSN), the registry for .com, isn’t allowed to allocate any single letter .com domain names. Three .com domains were registered before this restriction: q.com, x.com and z.com.

CenturyLink owns Q.com, which was used by Qwest. Elon Musk (re) acquired X.com last year for an undisclosed amount. Nissan sold Z.com to GMO for $6.8 million in 2014.

That’s it, but this might change soon.

In November 2017, Verisign submitted a request to ICANN to allow it to release the O.com domain name. Verisign wants to auction the domain name and donate the proceeds to charity.

It likely picked this domain name because competition for it should be high. Overstock.com really, really wants the domain.

ICANN was concerned that allowing Verisign to auction the domain could be a competition issue, so it referred the matter to the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice. The DOJ declined to open an investigation into it.

So ICANN is moving forward. The .com contract would need to be amended to allow for the sale of O.com, and it has opened a comment period for the amendment.

What’s Verisign’s game here if it is going to donate the proceeds to charity? There are two possibilities that come to mind.

One is that Verisign is using this as a proof-of-concept and hopes to be able to sell other one letter .com and .net domains in the future and keep the proceeds.

Alternatively, if it never gets to keep the proceeds, Verisign could use the press from this domain (and future one letter domains) selling for a lot of money to solidify .com’s brand.

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  1. Acro says

    Overstock wanted the domain 6 years ago. In today’s Amazon driven retail world, brands are more important than shortcuts to brands. And Overstock still uses O.co as a forwarder. I doubt they’d spend the asking millions for the domain.

    Oprah might. Especially if she were to run as a president.

  2. Mike says

    Single letter domain names are rare ❓
    There are so many available to register

    Alphabet International
    a = latin
    á = latin acute
    ă = latin breve
    ắ = latin breve & acute
    ằ = latin breve & grave
    ẳ = latin breve & hook
    ȃ = latin inverted brave
    ǎ = latin caron
    â = latin circumflex
    ấ = latin cirumflex & acute
    ä = latin diaeresis
    ȧ = latin dot
    ậ = latin circumflex & dot
    à = latin grave
    ầ = latin circumflex & grave
    ȁ = latin double grave
    ả = latin hook
    ẩ = latin circumflex & hook
    ẳ = latin hook
    ᶏ = latin retroflex hook
    ā = latin macron
    ą = latin minuscule
    å = latin ring
    ḁ = latin ring below
    ẚ = latin right half ring
    ã = latin tilde
    ẫ = latin circumflex & tilde
    ǡ = dot (diacritic)

    These are single leading letter
    And that’s only a part

    Many of them a available to register

    I got ā.com

    Regular si gel letter domain name a with macron

    Or you wanna tell me that all other letters than the 26 Latin alphabet are not regular❓

  3. Snoopy says

    Verisign doesn’t have any ownership rights over these domains names so even the concept of them donating it to charity is doubtful. The currently have the contract to manage the registry and that is it.

    The money should be going to Icann and Icann can donate it to charity. Icann should be able to choose whoever they like to auction off the names.

  4. Nikola says

    There are single letter domains in other languages;
    Of course, latin is the king for the moment but even in latin there is the latin extended alphabet and some single letters are pretty good;
    I have ô.com
    ô is a single letter (and a word) in French, Portuguese and Vietnamese

  5. Karlos says

    Wondering, wether there will be more auctions like A.com (for Amazon), C.com (for Cola-Cola), F.com (for Facebook or Foxconn), G.com (for Google), M.com (for Microsoft or McDonalds), T.com (for Twitter or T-mobile)… Do not tell me that it would cause any security issues… These short domains are great for effective spending time and let’s not forget that time and informations are the very best commodities! And above all, it will also boost their brand, not otherwise!!! Icann should use money from these type of auctions for charity then.

  6. William Blackwood says

    (Andrew, I submitted my comment below to Kevin Murphy and his DomainIncite site but Kevin has yet to post it. Please post my comment below. Thank you, William).

    I am William Blackwood, Vice President of First Place Internet, Inc. (First Place). In August of 2016, I met in person with VeriSign’s Pat Kane and Tom Indelicarto at VeriSign headquarters in Virginia. ICA General Counsel Phil Corwin was also present. Both Pat Kane and Tom Indelicarto were cognizant of First Place’s interest in SCDNs due the services offered by First Place under its “1” trademark. Nevertheless, Pat Kane told me he did not want to discuss any issues regarding SCDNs. He limited discussion to other issues such as IDNs. Unlike Kurt’s described experience regarding his Overstock meeting though, I did not bring a check to my VeriSign meeting. I brought the truth instead.

    {At 2015-12-09T00:08:47Z, employing its validated Trademark Clearinghouse SMD file, First Place successfully registered VeriSign’s Katakana (Japanese) http://1.コム/ (1.xn--tckwe) IDN domain name in VeriSign’s Sunrise Period. Later, at 2018-07-31T14:29:51Z, employing its validated Trademark Clearinghouse SMD file for its U.S. Trademark # 1102618, First Place successfully registered VeriSign’s Hebrew o.קום (o.xn--9dbq2a) IDN domain name in VeriSign’s Sunrise Period}

    Of course, at the time of my meeting, I had no idea that Overstock had been pushing so hard for years to obtain the O.com domain. I had no idea that Overstock had allegedly offered ICANN $1 million and then $2 million for the right to register this single domain. Perhaps naively, I came armed solely with arguments I thought were persuasive enough to justify the registration of SCDNs.

    At a minimum, Kurt’s “offer” from Overstock coupled with VeriSign’s decision to limit its RSEP solely to O.com casts a menacing shadow of potential impropriety. Overstock’s campaign to persuade ICANN to auction off SCDNs (specifically O.com) as a means of raising revenues is documented. It surely is no coincidence that Verisign and ICANN have now agreed to such an auction, albeit one in which proceeds will allegedly go to those acting in the public interest. VeriSign’s O.com RSEP, combined with its lack of any Rights Protection Mechanisms, is thus a slap in the face of Intellectual Property owners who have worked properly within the system to develop and protect brands that could be subject to SCDN registrations. The taint of impropriety obviously harms invested owners of Intellectual Property who fairly competed and successfully won in registering IDN .com SCDNs in accordance to VeriSign’s unambiguous commitments.1,2, 3

    VeriSign’s O.com auction also runs afoul of its Cooperative Agreement because the U.S. Government (USG) Contract prohibits VeriSign from charging registrants more than its fixed price cap. The headline that VeriSign would only retain $7.85 from the O.com auction is misleading and deceptive. The letter and the spirit of VeriSign’s exclusive USG contract is unambiguously clear – To protect the public from an unrestrained monopoly.

    VeriSign previously made unambiguous commitments to shareholders regarding the protection of Intellectual Property rights2. This Corporate Commitment further buttressed VeriSign’s longstanding commitments regarding IDN registrants1, as well as ICANN’s IPC Recommendation for reserved .com SCDNs5.

    VeriSign must remove even the taint of impropriety through the following:

    1. Withdrawing and replacing the current O.com RSEP with an amended version inclusive of ICANN’s own IPC-recommended Rights Protection Mechanism (RPMs) requirements including Sunrise and Priority Access
    .
    2. Applying these RPMs equally in the future to all reserved .com SCDNs.

    3. Staying within the mandated cost-restraints applicable to VeriSign.

    Anything less is a failure of multi-stakeholder governance and blame for which falls squarely upon VeriSign and ICANN.

    William

    1https://blog.verisign.com/domain-names/update-on-verisigns-idn-implementation-plans/

    2https://seekingalpha.com/article/2002541-verisign-management-discusses-q4-2013-results-earnings-call-transcript

    “Sterling P. Auty – JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

    Just a quick follow-up on that line of conversation. Pat, you mentioned, to protect trademarks and the IDNs, that may take longer. I guess it was our understanding that there was that period of time that the trademark clearinghouse was supposed to do that. Are you saying that you’re doing something above and beyond what the trademark clearinghouse is doing?

    Patrick S. Kane

    Yes. Essentially I haven’t said that we’re doing something different, and because what we’re doing — we may have talked about this in previous calls, but the idea of applying for the transliterations of .com and .net, one of the benefits of that was to protect the applicant — or protect the registrant that has invested in .com today. So if there’s a transliteration of .com in Chinese, what we have proposed to do is to make certain that only the registrant that is — or if the registrant has already registered in .com, that they’re the only one that has the opportunity to register that domain name in the transliterated version for Chinese or for Hangul or for whatever TLD that we’ve operated. So that’s something that’s unique to what we’re doing within our applications. And so that’s an additional protection for intellectual property and trademarks”.

    3https://domainnamewire.com/2013/07/14/verisign-reconfirms-idn-transliteration-plans-provides-more-details/
    4https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/warren-to-board-28nov06-en.pdf
    5https://mm.icann.org/pipermail/comments-o-com-single-char-10may18/2018q2/000022.html

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