Purpose: This public comment proceeding is to gather community input on the proposed amendment to implement the approved Registry Service request from the registry operator, VeriSign, Inc., ("Verisign"), to release for registration one domain name with a single-character label, O.COM, in the .COM generic top-level domain (gTLD).
Current Status: The ICANN organization has reviewed Verisign's proposal pursuant to the .COM Registry Agreement and determined it does not raise significant Security or Stability issues. However, the ICANN organization determined the proposed Registry Service might raise significant competition issues. On 7 December 2017, the ICANN organization referred the matter to the appropriate governmental competition authority, the United States Department of Justice. On 14 December 2017, the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice communicated to the ICANN organization that it did not intend to open an investigation on the matter. Upon approving the proposed Registry Service, ICANN org determined the proposed Registry Service required an amendment to the .COM Registry Agreement to enable the implementation of this service. The ICANN org is seeking public comments on the proposed amendment.
Next Steps: The ICANN org will prepare a Public Comment Summary and Analysis Report at the conclusion of the comment period. The amendment may be referred to the Board for consideration.
Section I: Description and Explanation
On 30 November 2017, Verisign submitted a Registry Service request [PDF, 32 KB] to release for registration one domain name with a single-character label, O.COM, pursuant to the .COM Registry Agreement between ICANN and Verisign. The ICANN org has reviewed Verisign's proposal pursuant to the .COM Registry Agreement and determined [PDF, 197 KB] it does not raise significant Security or Stability issues. However, the ICANN org determined the proposed service might raise significant competition issues. On 7 December 2017, the ICANN org referred the matter [PDF, 4.25 MB] to the appropriate governmental competition authority, the United States Department of Justice, and on 14 December 2017, the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice communicated to the ICANN org [PDF, 46 KB] it did not intend to open an investigation on the matter. Upon approving the proposed Registry Service, ICANN org determined the Registry Service requires an amendment to the .COM Registry Agreement.
Under the proposed amendment, the single character domain name, O.COM, will be allocated through an auction process. In accordance with the RSEP, any potential registrant may participate in the auction process and select any ICANN-accredited registrar for the management of the registration for O.COM if awarded to their registrant. No restrictions will be placed on how the registrant may select the .COM ICANN-accredited registrar. The auction will be managed by a third party auction service provider selected by Verisign.
As described in the proposed amendment, Verisign chose not to, directly or indirectly, receive any proceeds from the sale, allocation, transfer or renewal of O.COM and will only receive the standard registry fee for the registration of O.COM, in accordance with the Maximum Price set forth in Section 7.3(d) of the .COM Registry Agreement. Proceeds derived from the auction of O.COM will be provided to one or more nonprofit organizations, or its successors. None of the auction proceeds will directly or indirectly be used to benefit Verisign, its affiliates, or its directors, officers, or employees, other than to the de minimis extent those proceeds are used by the nonprofit(s) to benefit the Internet community in general.
Section II: Background
By default, all gTLDs that were contracted with ICANN before 2011 were required to reserve from initial registration single-character domain names at the second level as the result of a reserved names policy imposed in 1993. In January 2007, as part of the Generic Names Supporting Organization's (GNSO) discussions on the Introduction of New gTLDs, the GNSO chartered the creation of the Working Group on Reserved Names to examine the role and treatment of reserved domain names at the first and second level for legacy and new gTLDs, including single-character label reservations at the second level. Prior to the GNSO's discussions, ICANN had received expressions of interest from the community to authorize the release of these names. In May 2007, the GNSO Working Group on Reserved Names published its final report. The Working Group recommended that single letters and digits be released at the second level, but more work needed to be done regarding allocation methods. The GNSO Council incorporated the Working Group's recommendations into its Final Report on the Introduction of New gTLDs in August 2007.
Following the GNSO's recommendation, ICANN initiated a public comment period regarding allocation methods for single-character domain names in October 2007, and the summary and analysis report [PDF, 60 KB] was published 23 December 2007. The majority of the comments supported the allocation of single-letter names, and suggested different allocation methods, from auctions to random lottery to registry allocation through the existing RSEP.
In February 2008, ICANN published a further analysis of the comments regarding the allocation of single-character domains in its Synthesis on Single-Character Domain Names at the Second Level [PDF, 38 KB]. A majority of commenters that favored the allocation of single-letter names during the 2007 public comment period recommended auctions as the preferred method of objectively allocating scarce resources such as single-character domain names at the second-level. However, in May 2008, two registry operators submitted RSEP requests for the release of single-character domain names and proposed a Request for Proposal process managed by the registry operators to determine allocation of the domain names. ICANN subsequently published the Single-Character Second-Level Domain Name (SC SLD) Allocation Framework, proposing an auction allocation of single-character second-level domain names and disbursement of funds towards areas of public good for the Internet community. The comments received, most of which were from registry operators, supported allocation methods varying by registry and did not support a one-size-fits-all approach.
In November 2008, the Board approved the release of single-character domains for gTLDs .COOP and .MOBI, allowing the respective registry operators to determine their own allocation method for single-character domains. Subsequently, single-character domain names were requested and approved for release in more gTLDs: .ASIA [PDF, 271 KB], .CAT, .INFO, .ORG [PDF, 271 KB], .PRO, .TEL [PDF, 52 KB] and .TRAVEL. Single-character names are not required to be reserved for gTLDs introduced as part of the New gTLD Program.
In November 2017, Verisign submitted a Registry Service request to conduct a trial to release for registration one .COM domain name with a single-character label, O.COM, through an auction and to disburse the auction proceeds toward areas of public good for the Internet community, consistent with ICANN's Single-Character Second-Level Domain Name (SC SLD) Allocation Framework. Upon approving the proposed Registry Service, ICANN org determined the Registry Service requires an amendment to the .COM Registry Agreement. The ICANN org is seeking public comments on the proposed amendment.