Overstock.com, which seems to have made registering single-letter domain names a key part of its branding strategy, likely has o.co.uk next in its sights.
While it’s well known that o.com is the ultimate prize, Overstock has also been laying the groundwork for buying o.co.uk for over three years.
Nominet, the .uk registry, is set to open up the first of two sunrise periods on double and single-character .co.uk domains on December 1, and I expect Overstock already has its application ready to go.
It might not be an entirely straightforward bid, however.
Under the Nominet sunrise rules, holders of UK trademarks in use before January 1, 2008 are eligible to apply for their short domains.
Overstock, it turns out, has had a registered trademark on o.co.uk since August 2008.
It applied for the UK trademark in January 2008, the same month that Nominet’s policy-setting committees first started discussing the release of single-letter domains.
As far as I can tell, the trademark is considered valid from August 1, 2007, the same time Overstock was granted its US trademark on o.co.uk.
But can the company prove it was “using” the trademark prior to January 1, 2008, given that the domain was reserved? It does not appear to have a UK trademark on the letter O by itself.
One way or the other, I expect Overstock to eventually win the domain. Under Nominet’s rules, contested domains will go to auction, and Overstock has already proved it has deep pockets.
The company also has US trademarks on other O domains that it does not and cannot currently own, including o.info, o.com, and o.eu. It successfully registered and uses o.biz.
It also has a US trademark on o.de, but that domain appears to be currently registered to a German domain investor.