In general, single-character domain names (SCDNs), e.g. A.com or 1.com, have been largely unavailable for registration in the .COM registry. Yet, SCDNs in other top level domain registries (.ORG, .BIZ, and .INFO) have been available for registration. So, why are the .COM SCDNs reserved?
Currently, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the organization assigned with the task of governing the Internet’s domain name system. A company by the name of VeriSign is currently the authorized operator of the .COM registry. VeriSign and ICANN operate in conjunction to determine various operating aspects of the .COM registry, including the release of .COM SCDNs for registration. For an undisclosed reason, VeriSign and ICANN have decided not to release SCDNs, even in view of the Public’s expressed desire for the release of the SCDNs.
Lack of rationale for release of SCDNs
Initially, ICANN and the first .COM registry operators were concerned with technical issues of having SCDNs. However, both ICANN and VeriSign have long ago confirmed that these hypothetical technical issues are of no real concern. However, the .COM SCDNs have not been released. In fact, neither party can provide any legitimate rationale for the reservation of the .COM SCDNs.
U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that SCDNs can operate as trademarks
In particular, the U.S. Supreme Court, in United States Patent & Trademark Office v. Booking.com B. V., unequivocally confirmed that any term, regardless of how generic, followed by a TLD, such as .COM, can act as a source-identifying trademark. Based on the same reasoning, any SCDN, which is arguably less generic that any single generic term, is capable of operating as a trademark. Therefore, the continued reservation of SCDNs in the .COM registry prevents certain trademark holders from operating .COM domain names corresponding to their trademarks. In other words, trademark holders with legitimate rights to SCDNs are unjustifiably prevented from operating SCDNs corresponding to their marks.
Only logical result
Accordingly, based on Booking.com’s confirmation that SCDNs are capable of operating as trademarks and the complete lack of a legitimate basis for VeriSign’s and ICANN’s reservation of .COM SCDNs, SCDNs should be released. Consequently, VeriSign’s and ICANN’s reservation of .COM SCDNs is akin to cybersquatting and domain name warehousing. Overall, they are denying U.S. companies the right to register .COM SCDNs corresponding to their respective intellectual property rights. These actions undeniably harm interstate commerce and prevent companies from growing and expanding. Thus, the Department of Commerce should compel VeriSign and ICANN to release all .COM SCDNs.