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Chinese Domain Name Scams

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Authored by Jane D. Tucker

Chinese domain name scams are solicitations by entities in Asia to companies around the world requesting that the company register its brand name as a domain name with an Asian domain name registrar.

The initial solicitation is via email and usually contains the following:

  • A statement that a third party has applied to register a domain name with an Asian domain name registrar that contains the company’s brand name (trademark, company name or domain name).
  • A request that the recipient of the email confirm whether or not it has authorized the application.
  • A statement that if the recipient company has not authorized the application, then it should apply first in order to protect the company’s brand name.
  • A sense of urgency to the email, usually requesting that the recipient reply within a very short period of time (two or three days) in order to prevent the third party from registering the brand name as a domain name.

If the recipient of the email agrees to retain the Asian domain name registrar to register its company’s domain name, it may end up paying premium prices to register the domain name and be required to register for a minimum of five or ten years. If the company receives any registration at all after payment to the domain name registrar, it will often be for only one year. In addition, the domain registrar may also require payment for some product called “Brand Name” protection at the same time the domain name registration fees are paid.

Are these legitimate emails? The answer is NO. First, chances are there is no third party applying to register the applicable brand name with one of the Asian domain name registrars. If the email gives the name of the alleged third party, a search on the Internet will often reveal no company by that name (for example “Apety International Ltd.” was the name of a third party allegedly seeking to register a client’s brand name as a domain name but nothing under that name turned up when an Internet search was conducted).

Second, most companies already have their trademark, company name and/or brand name registered as a domain name with one of the other top level domains such as .com, .net, .org or .biz and most likely the company does not also need to have the same registered with one of the Asian registrars. If, however, the solicitation contains reference to a domain name that the recipient may want to register, then the recipient should consider registering it with the same domain registrar that it currently uses.

If you have any questions about these type of solicitations, or any other questions relating to intellectual property, please contact us for assistance.

This article is meant to shed light on this topic and should not be considered legal advice. 

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