We wrote on China domain name scams last year, but since we are seeing an increase in these from our clients and readers, we are going to write on it again. Just about everyone doing business in China or doing business with China gets or will get one or more of the following:
1. Preventing someone in China from registering your domain name;
2. Registering your domain name in China, “just in time” to prevent someone from beating you to it;
3. Making sure that your domain name registration in China does not expire.
DO NOT RESPOND.
Near as we can tell, every single one of these that we have seen (and we have seen at least one hundred of these (because clients and readers are always sending them to us to review) are a scam. Number 3 above may not be a scam if you actually have a Chinese domain name, but if you do not, it is.
You also may get emails from someone claiming to have already registered some iteration of your company name (or one of your product names) and seeking to sell it to you. For example, if your company is called “xyz” and you already own the xyz.com domain name, your email may come from someone who has purchased and now wants to sell you the xyz.cn domain.
STRATFOR did a China Security Memo on how these emails would increase when ICANN ( Corporation for Assigned Names and Number) started accepting applications for domain names with non-Latin characters (i.e., Chinese) and that appears to have been the case now that ICANN has done that.
So what should you do when you receive an email offering to protect you from “others” who are seeking to register a Chinese translation or variant of your name or product or someone seeking to sell you an already registered translation or variant.
First off, as soon as possible, register whatever domains you need to protect your company or brand. Determine now what domain names you care about so you do not need to make this determination with a gun to your head. Right now is the time to think about Chinese character domain names.
Secondly, if someone has already actually registered a domain name that is important to you and they are now offering to sell it to you, you essentially have three choices. One, let the domain name go. Two, buy it from the company that “took” it from you. Or three, pursue legal action against the company that took it from you.
Preemption by registration is your best and least expensive protection. In other words, if you do not want someone taking your company name or one of your product names (or some variant of these) and using them for a domain name, register those as domain names right now. You should also figure out whether it makes sense for you to register your trademark in China or wherever else you do business.
What are you seeing out there?