If your company has done anything in China (even just sending someone there to meet with a supplier), you have probably received a somewhat official email offering, at a steep price, to “help” you stop someone from taking your domain name.

DO NOT RESPOND.

Near as I can tell, every single one of these that I have seen (and I have seen at least fifty of them because clients are always sending them to me) are a scam.

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 just did a “China Security Memo” on how it expects these emails to increase once ICANN starts accepting applications for domain names with non-Latin characters (i.e., Chinese):

This practice could get a further boost in China following the announcement in late October by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that domain names do not have to have Latin characters. No doubt Chinese domain peddlers are already preparing to register the established brand names of Chinese and foreign companies in Chinese characters (according to media reports, ICANN will start accepting applications for non-Latin domain names Nov. 16).

In other words, you should expect to receive emails from people 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.

What to do?

First off, as soon as possible, register whatever domains necessary to protect yourself. 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 taken 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. And, three, pursue legal action against the company that took it from you.

Preemption by registration is your best and least expensive protection.