Nov '23

Domain investor sues to try to get one character .com domain names – Domain Name Wire

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Company claims it should get 1.com, a.com etc based on its registration of internationalized domain names.Picture of scales with the word "lawsuit" imposted on top in a box
A domain name investor has sued ICANN (pdf), arguing that the investor should have exclusive rights to many single-character .com domain names.
VerandaGlobal.com, d/b/a First Place Internet, filed the suit in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles in August. ICANN has published the suit and its response.
First Place registered a number of domain names in Verisign’s transliterations of .com domains in Katakana, Hangul, and Hebrew.
When Verisign planned its launch of transliterations of .com and .net, it told registrants that if they owned IDN(.)com, they’d be the only ones with rights to register the same IDN.IDN-as-transliteration, and vice versa.
So First Place registered the names in various IDN extensions and now argues it should get the equivalent domains in .com.
Its claim is vast, essentially arguing that it should have sole rights to register the numerals 1.com through 9.com, and essentially every single letter .com domain that’s not currently registered.
ICANN has reserved nearly all single letter .com and .net domains from registration, save for some domains registered before this policy was put in place.
In 2013, Verisign sent a letter to ICANN stating its cross-TLD registration policy for transliterations. As is customary, ICANN published the letter on its website. First Place argues:
ICANN published VeriSign’s July 11, 2013 Letter without objection thereby accepting VeriSign’s planned IDN implementation strategy…
…Any visitor, including Plaintiffs, to the ICANN web page, would reasonably conclude VeriSign’s IDN implementation strategy of ICANN-Adopted Policy and illustrations therein had full ICANN approval and sanction. Plaintiffs did review this ICANN web page and did affirmatively rely upon the representations and policies contained in the Letter.
ICANN responded to the lawsuit with a Notice of Demurrer (pdf), which I’d sum up as saying you’ve got to be joking.
The non-profit domain overseer claims there’s no contract between it and First Place Internet. Regarding Verisign’s letter on its website, ICANN states:
…Plaintiffs make a convoluted argument that ICANN somehow ratified and/or adopted the contents of a third-party letter that ICANN received in 2013 simply by posting it on ICANN’s Correspondence webpage. Yet, Plaintiffs’ Complaint neglects to mention that this letter was posted on ICANN’s website along with the thousands of other letters ICANN has received, which is ICANN’s standard practice in order to be open and transparent with the public. Posting a letter from a third party on its website cannot possibly result in ICANN adopting a “policy” or being in a contractual relationship with some other entity or even agreeing with the content of the letter. In sum, even if Plaintiffs were permitted to amend their Complaint, they will never be able to state a cause of action against ICANN because ICANN has no relationship with Plaintiffs.
Categories: Policy & Law
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John Berryhill says

This is the terminal phase of a sad obsession. First, Verandaglobal purchased a bunch of figurative single-letter trademarks in “naked assignments” (i.e. formal purchases with no real intention of carrying on the goodwill associated with use of the marks for the recited goods/services). We’re supposed to believe that he’s busy making and selling:
US TM Reg. No. 3739689 – “2” (stylized) brand mountain bikes
US TM Reg. No. 3862973 – “G” (stylized) brand computer peripherals
US TM Reg. No. 3754571 – “M” (stylized) brand computer drive utility software
US TM Reg. No. 3751823 – “5” (stylized) brand dating services
US TM Reg. No. 3893990 – “W” (stylized) brand pharmaceutical research services
The list goes on, but anyone with the slightest curiosity about how goofy a scheme it has been should really look up those marks, along with some of the recent “specimens of use” – some of which are a real hoot. It’s a classic example of what happens when you only pay people who will carry out your nutty scheme, but not provide you with honest practical advice on it. Yes, there are lawyers who will cash a check and do what you want, but there’s a lot more value in finding the ones who aren’t as hard up and who can give you advice that will save you that money.
But now he’s got another ridiculous scheme that isn’t going to work any better. No court is going to buy into the notion that ICANN owes you a pile of single-character .com domain names simply because you’ve come up with another convoluted argument that, solely in your mind (and the mind of anyone paid to agree with you), entitles you to them.
Snoopy says

Stupid lawsuit.
Matt says

Such ridiculous people sitting in big offices.
MikeUK says

In that case I want E.com on same basis, thank you. (I presume this Lawsuit does not claim E.com luckily, maybe they know I have it !!
Tj says

First off, how were they even allowed to register the various single letter domains in the other IDNs? Single letters are generally never allowed to start with. Even existing sites on Latin gtld, it should all be synced which it clearly isn’t?
Also, this isn’t even someone who wants the site for a legitimate use cuz they want to reach an international audience, this is literally someone who thinks they can make money off of this and found a loophole
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Joker has been buying and selling domains since the late 90's. He has worked with many portfolios and investors over the past decade as well.

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