At least once a week, I get an email from a friend, associate or fellow business owner asking me whether the email they just received is legitimate. Mainly originating from China, this scam involves sending domain owners an email claiming that another company has attempted to register domains containing the targeted company’s trademarks.
You’ve likely seen this email:
“Dear Manager, (If you are not the person who is in charge of this, please forward this to your CEO, Thanks)
This email is from China domain name registration center, which mainly deal with the domain name registration and dispute internationally in China and Asia. On Oct 29th 2012, We received *** Ltd.’s application that they are registering the name “********” as their Internet Keyword and “********.cn”, “********.com.cn “, “********.asia” domain names, etc.., they are China and ASIA domain names. But after auditing we found the brand name been used by your company. As the domain name registrar in China, it is our duty to notice you, so we are sending you this email to check. According to the principle in China, your company is the owner of the trademark. In our auditing time we can keep the domain names safe for you firstly, but our audit period is limited, if you object the third party application these domain names and need to protect the brand in China and Asia by yourself, please let the responsible officer contact us as soon as possible.”
The email is typically signed the registration department, auditing officer or some official sounding title.
Another scam called “Domain Slamming” is a practice where a domain registrar or reseller sends a transfer notice masquerading as a renewal notice to trick customers of another registrar into switching away. Some of these notices come by email but many come in brown envelopes with the Canadian maple leaf logo and a name similar to the official domain registry, but is actually a private company. The notices look like government-issued invoices so people assume its legitimacy.
What the fine print actually says is that by paying the fee, you have authorized the transfer of your domain away from your current registrar.
Part 2 of this blog will discuss how to protect your business from fake trademark infringement and “domain slamming” scams.