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ICANN scores win in single-letter .com lawsuit

Kevin Murphy, March 13, 2024, Domain Policy

A Los Angeles court has handed ICANN a victory in a lawsuit filed against it by a domainer who thinks he has the rights to register all the remaining single-character .com domains.

Bryan Tallman of VerandaGlobal.com sued ICANN back in August, claiming the Org was breaking the law by refusing to allow him to register domains such as 1.com and A.com.

He already owns the matching domains in Verisign’s Chinese, Japanese and Hebrew .com IDNs, such as A.קום (A.xn--9dbq2a) and 1.コム (1.xn--tckwe), and says previous Verisign statements mean this gives him the right to the equivalents in vanilla .com.

These domains would very likely be worth tens of millions of dollars apiece. Verisign has held almost all single-character domain names in registry-reserved status since the 1990s. A few, notably Elon Musk’s x.com, pre-date the reservation.

Tallman claimed unfair competition, breach of contract, negligence and fraud and sought a declaratory judgement stating that ICANN be forced to transfer to him all of the 10 digits and all 23 of the remaining unregistered letters in .com, along with some matching .net names.

Pretty outlandish stuff, based on some pretty flimsy arguments.

ICANN filed a demurrer last year, objecting to the suit and asking the Superior Court of California in LA to throw it out, and the judge mostly agreed. In a February ruling (pdf), published recently by ICANN, he threw out all seven of Tallman’s claims.

Tallman was given permission to re-state and re-file five of the claims within 30 days, but his demand for a declaratory judgement was ruled out completely as being irreparably broken.