- Single-letter second-level domain
Single-letter second-level domains are domain names in which the second-level domain consists of only one letter, such as x.com. In 1993, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) explicitly reserved all single-letter and single-digit second-level domain names in the top-level domains com, net, and org, and grandfathered those that had already been assigned. In December 2005, ICANN considered auctioning these domains.
Active single-letter domains
On December 1, 1993, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) explicitly reserved the remaining single-letter and single-digit domain names. The few domains that were already assigned were grandfathered in and continued to exist.
The assigned domains in this group are the following:
Domain 1993 Owner Current Owner i.net INet Solutions Ltd Future Media Architects q.com JG CenturyLink q.net Privately owned Qwest x.com Weinstein & DePaolis X Commerce x.org The Open Group X.Org Foundation z.com HomePage.com Nissan Motors
As of August 2011 only three domains, i.net, x.com and x.org host a web site. q.com is active but redirects to centurylink.com.
There are a few single-letter second-level domains not listed under country code top-level domains. These TLDs are not controlled directly by IANA and national registrars may decide whether to allow single-letter domains or not. An example is u.tv for Ulster Television. Although some registrars allow these one character domains, most charge either 5 or 4 figure fees. An example of this is the $50,000 price tag on a single letter domain at the Samoan NIC.
Two-letter domain names
Two-letter .com domain names were never reserved and it was possible for anyone to register them in the very early years of the Internet (from 1985 to 1998). Since 1998 all variations of the 676 .com domains have been registered and they can only be obtained by buying them from the previous owner. In 1997 American Airlines was the first company to buy a two-letter domain (AA.com) on the secondary market, followed in 1998 by Hennes & Mauritz (HM.com) and Deutsche Bank (DB.com).
Notable examples of two letter .com domains used by corporations:
- aa.com (American Airlines)
- ae.com (American Eagle Outfitters)
- ba.com (British Airways)
- bn.com (Barnes & Noble)
- bp.com (BP)
- bt.com (British Telecom)
- ca.com (CA, Inc)
- db.com (Deutsche Bank)
- dj.com (Dow Jones & Company)
- dq.com (Dairy Queen)
- d2.com (Digital Domain)
- ea.com (Electronic Arts)
- eb.com (Encyclopedia Britannica)
- ey.com (Ernst & Young)
- fb.com (Facebook)
- ft.com (Financial Times)
- ge.com (General Electric)
- go.com (The Walt Disney Company)
- gm.com (General Motors)
- gs.com (Goldman Sachs)
- hm.com (Hennes & Mauritz)
- ha.com (Heritage Auctions)
- hp.com (Hewlett-Packard)
- ld.com (Loren Data Corp.)
- lg.com (LG Group)
- me.com (Apple Inc.)
- ms.com (Morgan Stanley)
- ni.com (National Instruments)
- o2.com (Telefónica Europe)
- pg.com (Procter & Gamble)
- sc.com (Standard Chartered Bank)
- st.com (STMicroelectronics)
- t3.com (T3 (magazine)
- ti.com (Texas Instruments)
- ua.com (Under Armour)
- vf.com (Vanity Fair magazine)
- vk.com (Vkontakte)
- wp.com (WordPress.com)
- yp.com (Yellow Pages)
Some two letter .com domains are also used as national country codes which are promoted through the private London Based Domain registration company CentralNic:
- ar.com (websites in relation to Argentina)
- br.com (websites in relation to Brazil)
- cn.com (websites in relation to China)
- eu.com (websites in relation to Europe)
- gr.com (websites in relation to Greece)
- hu.com (websites in relation to Hungary)
- kr.com (websites in relation to Korea)
- no.com (websites in relation to Norway)
- ru.com (websites in relation to Russia)
- sa.com (websites in relation to Saudi Arabia)
- se.com (websites in relation to Sweden)
- uk.com (websites in relation to the United Kingdom)
- uy.com (websites in relation to Uruguay)
- za.com (websites in relation to South Africa)
Most of these domains were registered by CentralNic between 1996 and 1998 at a time they were available for registration to anyone; some, like gr.com (already registered in 1994) were acquired later.
Two-letter domains with other extensions are less prominent but they are also used by known companies:
Market value of single- or two-letter .com domains
Only three of the 26 possible single-letter domains have ever been registered, all before 1992. The other 23 single-letter .com domains were registered January 1, 1992 by Jon Postel, with the intention to avoid a single company commercially controlling a letter of the Alphabet.
Many but not all .com two-letter domains are among the most valuable domains.
While it is widely believed that the domains business.com and sex.com have been the most valuable domain transactions, prominent two-letter domains have only been sold after nondisclosed transactions handled by specialized broker and law firms.
The value of the LG Group (the South Korean electronics conglomerate formerly known as Lucky Goldstar) purchase of lg.com was never published. LG Group missed the first sale of the domain in 2008 from the original owner the chemical company Lockwood Greene to the British ex- professional footballer Andy Booth, who had used it to launch a footballing website known as LifeGames. They bought it one year later, in 2009, for a significant amount.. Following the purchase LG Group changed worldwide marketing to LG.com, which is now their central internet address for all countries. All national LG Country domains like "LG.de" or "LG.com.mx" redirect to "LG.com".
Fights for Two Letter Domains
Most well known international companies missed the opportunity to register the Internet address that matched their company initials. This is due to the fact that two letter domains were among the very first domains to have been registered, mostly by Internet-savvy technology corporations or by private individuals living in the USA where the Internet was first established.
The French fashion house Louis Vuitton missed the registration of LV.com matching their well known "LV" monogram. In 2004 the address LV.com was for sale by its owner Manifest Information Service but LVMH tried to get it via a domain law suit. As two letters can have many different significations the National Arbitration Forum denied the transfer of the domain. The failed lawsuit was followed by financial negotiations. The British insurance company Liverpool Victoria then became aware of the case; its new president Mike Rogers stepped in and in August 2007 outbid the world's largest luxury brand.
With the 2005 announcement that registration of the remaining single-letter names might become available, some companies have attempted to establish a right to the names by claiming to own trademark rights over single letters used in such a context. U Magazine, a college oriented publication, has gone so far as to re-brand its Web site as "U.com" (with a ™ sign) in online logos and captions—even though it does not operate a web site at that URL. They sent a letter to ICANN attempting to gain priority for registration of this name. Other companies actually use their trademarks in commerce. G.com, which operates a search engine at www.search-g.com, has succeeded in registering its trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office(USPTO).
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