Intellectual Property Domain Name Scam Still Running Rampant

There is what I would call an intellectual property domain name scam that companies are still falling for–and the individuals behind the scam have been successfully running it for over 10 years now. If you are a domain name owner (and most likely you do own a domain name), then you may at some point receive an email from someone in China telling you that someone is trying to register a domain name that is similar to your intellectual property. They want you to reply to them, so you can then pay them ridiculous fees to register useless domain names.

Usually, this company targets businesses–especially those who have sent out press releases recently or who have been mentioned in the news. I suspect that they have bots crawling for these types of sites. They then grab the email address from the whois data and send an email like this:

Subject: Urgent notice of Intellectual Property protection

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 in China. We received an application from Hansen Ltd on June 4, 2012. They want to register ” COMPANY-NAME ” as their internet keyword and China/Asia (CN/ASIA) domain names. But after checking it, we find this name conflicts with your company. In order to deal with this matter better, so we send you email and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China or not?

Best Regards

General Manager
Shanghai Office (Head Office)
3002, Nanhai Building, No. 854 Nandan Road,
Xuhui District, Shanghai 200070, China
Tel: +86 216191 8696
Mobile: +86 1870199 4951
Fax: +86 216191 8697

There are several problems with this. Why would some company care if someone registered a domain name, in China, with your company name on it? Perhaps you’re opening up a division in China and it’s legit. So, you get, for example. Why would a registrar care if someone registered that name? Would they really take the time to track you down, find your email address, and then notify your company about regarding an “Urgent notice of Intellectual Property protection”. I think not. It’s just not reasonable.

I can confirm that I have received these types of emails for over 10 years now. And, even 10 years ago, as a domain name and SEO expert, I received questions from others (even my former employers) about whether or not the email is legit and whether or not they should purchase a domain name on another TLD such as .CN even though they don’t do business in China.

First, take a look at my Translating Web Sites article from a while back. If you do business in a certain language then you should consider translating your website. If not, then why bother? The same goes for a domain name. If you do business in other countries, then consider getting a domain using the accepted TLD in that country. If not, then don’t bother.

And, finally, if someone does register a domain name in another TLD with your company name or trademark then there you should be able to recover that domain name–either through legal action or through the UDRP process.

If you reply to one of these emails, then expect that the company will want you to pay for registration fees of a domain name that you probably don’t want or will never use. If you still want to “protect your intellectual property”, I recommend NOT going with this company, but going to another domain registrar of your choosing–and register the domain name there instead.

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  1. Mike Pannell - Nu Home Source Realty says

    I have gotten a lot of these emails in the last few years. I didnt know that they came after i released a press release. In fact i will watch for them as i just had a press release written about a week ago. I have noticed in the last few days i have gotten a lot more spam then I ever have.

  2. Herbert says

    I get a lot of spam emails with a variety of scams, but I never got a mail like this. Some people are very creative
    when it comes to scamming others. Thanks for the warning!

  3. Annie Darling says

    Earlier today I received this very email. I thank you highly for the informative and useful article that I’m sure has helped many others.