Most companies that engage in any cooperation with China (even if it’s just to meet with a supplier) will likely receive an official-looking email offering to “help” them stop someone from taking over their domain names.
Everyone who does business in China or with China gets or will receive an email claiming to be able to do the following for them:
- Protect your domain name from being registered by someone in China.
- Prevent someone from beating you to the domain name by registering it in China “just in time.”.
- Keep an eye on the expiration of your domain name registration in China.
As such, you will receive emails offering to protect your name or product from people seeking to register Chinese translations or variants or try to sell you already registered translations or variants.
Chinese domain name scams seem to increase every so often, and now is one of those times, according to many China lawyers. Many foreign companies are asking what they should do about an email they just received (usually written badly) informing them to register their domain name in China or they will lose it forever.
Every single one of these scams is a scam. If you have a Chinese domain name, number 3 above may not be a scam, but if you do not, it is.
What You Should D0 – Do Not respond
If you receive an email from a scammer, don’t reply. Scammers send thousands of these emails every day, and it’s unlikely that the person is attempting to secure your domain name.
As long as they hear back from you, then they have an incentive to interfere with your domain name since they realize you exist and your domain name is very important to you. They will ask you to pay them for their “help” in undoing what they themselves did.
Examples of emails
Following is a standard China domain scam email:
We are China’s internet domain services company, and last week, we received an application from a Chinese company that has requested “Example USA Company” as their internet name and China (.CN) domain name. But after checking into it, we learned that this name conflicts with your company name or trademark. To deal with this matter better, it’s necessary to send an email to you and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China and to confirm that you authorized this domain registration Please respond soonest.
And here is another example:
I am grateful for you checking this letter out. We are a Chinese domain registrar. Recently, we received a registration request from “ABC Technology Ltd” applying to register Example brand and domain names(.cn, .hk, etc.), which have the same main body as your company’s name. We are sending this letter to confirm with your company whether you authorize them to register those names. Please give me your thoughts ASAP to let us carry on, Thanks.
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 allegedly purchased and now wants to sell you the xyz.cn domain.
WHAT TO DO NEXT?
You should ask yourself whether you even care when you receive an email offering to protect you from “others” who want to register your name or product in Chinese, or someone who wants to sell you an already registered translation or variant. When that is the case, you should then determine whether you have a Chinese trademark that would prevent this from happening.
Your brand or company should be protected by registering the domains you need as soon as possible. You don’t need an email “gun” in your head to figure out what domains you want to own. You should also identify any brand names and logos that matter to your business in China (if any) and register them as Chinese trademarks as soon as possible.
The 3 options to respond to a person who has taken it and is now offering to sell it to you:
- Don’t worry about the domain name.
- Take it back from the company that “took” it.
- Legal action should be taken against the company that took your property.
Your best and least expensive protection is to register your brand names, slogans, and logos as trademarks in China to prevent these email problems.
If you do not want someone to take your company name or one of your product names (or some variant of these) and use them as a domain name, register those names now. In addition to registering them as trademarks in your home country, you should also consider them as trademarks in other countries (including China, of course). Note that manufacturing is included in the definition of “doing business” in most Asian countries.