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.


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?

Rapid “real estate” appreciation is moving beyond just real property in China into virtual property as well.  Communicate.com (CMMN), a publicly traded company that “owns, develops and markets approximately 900 websites,” states on its blog that China domain names are hot.

In its post, entitled, “Virtual Real Estate on a Tear,” [link no longer exists] the blog notes that the high cost of “.com” domain names is driving buyers to search out suffixes like .eu (European Union), .es (Spain), .cn (China) and .br (Brazil).  “.com” suffixes are “so saturated” that strong keywords and acronyms are going for six figures ($100,000) and that is why a variety of other suffixes, like .eu (European Union), .es (Spain), .br (Brazil) and .cn (China)  are “heating up” this year.

Alternatively, trademarking one’s name in China also provides a measure of protection against domain squatters.

we welcome reader recommendations of sites on which one can purchase unregistered “.cn” China domain names.

A small U.S. manufacturing company based out of the Midwest sent us a copy of an interesting letter they received from China today.  They asked us to take out their name but discuss it on our blog.  The letter is as follows:

I am a Chinese. From the company introduction that the Internet sees you, I know that you value the business in China very much.

In the information society of now, if you want to open the market of China, I suggest you should do one Internet station of the inside text. For the purpose of the large customer of China can carry on the understanding to you, because is already in the Chinese Internet very widespread, at work or living middlemans all use the Internet habitually, if your Chinese customer wants to buy your product, so they will pass the Internet to carry on the understanding to your product first.But, I see the introductive Internet of concerning your product only have English of, this develops to you the business is very not good, because total still have one part of persons is not to acquaint with very much to English, perhaps can’t masterly of usage.

Now, I have already registered following few areases: the ,  So I suggest: If you really want to open the market of China, invite you the top of two areas purchase to return.If you do not purchase, I sell to these two areas for the meeting other company.

What the English letter of the top use is an automatic translation of related software, may have some places are not very good.If you want the letter in reply, had better seek an inside text to translate, because my English is not very good.


This letter is letting this U.S. company know that the letter writer registered two variations of this company’s name as Chinese domains and is offering to sell those domains “back” to the company under threat of selling it to someone else.  This U.S. company has yet to do any real business in China, beyond sending someone there for exploratory meetings, yet someone learned of their nascent China intentions and is trying to hold them up for their domain name.

There is a cheap and easy way to avoid this problem:  register your China (cn) domain name before you go there for the first time.  Of course, many of you will be satisfied with continuing to use only your existing domain names — nobody is saying a cn name is essential, but if you are doing business in China, it probably will make sense for you to do so.

This domain name issue is actually rather trivial in comparison to what can happen in the trademark arena. In a subsequent post, I will discuss the critical need to protect your trademark BEFORE you set foot in China by registering your trademark in China.