China domain registration email: true, spam, or scam?

October 19, 2010

An email concerning a "Notice of Internet Intellectual Property Rights Dispute in China" seems to be traveling around the Internet recently, spurring a number of clients to contact DesignHammer inquiring what to do.

The email in questions seems pretty official. Is it true, spam, or a scam? Let’s consider the possibilities:

We are the organization of Asian Brand and Domain registration dispute, have something need to confirm with you. we formally received an application on Oct 14,2010. one company which called "Brazil Snobs Investment S.A" are applying to register "yourdomain" as Brand Name and Domains.

But we found that "Brazil Snobs Investment S.A" is not the original owner of the brand and trademark in the checking period,which belong to your company. I need confirm with you whether your company authorized that company to register these domain name. If you have done that, We will finish the registration for them and link to their website.

If not, please let me know ASAP.

In addition, we hereby affirm that our time limit for dissent application is 7 workdays. If your company files no dissent within the time limit, we will unconditionally approve the application.

Best Regards,

Roben Zon(Mr)
Auditing Consultant

Tel: +0086-566-2629-555     Fax: +0086-566-2629-666

Address: Room 205, No.D4 Qingxi South Garden, South-Chang Jiang Road, Guichi Shi District, Chizhou, China

At first glance, the organization of Asian Brand and Domain registration dispute would seem to be looking out or your best interests; wasn’t it nice of them to let you know that "Brazil Snobs Investment S.A" is attempting to infringe on your intellectual property.

A quick search on Google yields results for neither "Brazil Snobs Investment S.A," nor "Brazil Snobs," so it’s doubtful anybody is attempting to register your brand using these TLDs (Top Level Domain) registrars.

So what was the purpose of the email? At best, it's probably SPAM to get you to pay to register ten domains, likely for a few hundred dollars a year, or more, for the batch. At worst, it's likely a phishing scam attempting to get your credit card information.

True, SPAM, or scam, the common sense question is do you plan to do business in China, Hong Kong, India, Taiwan, or anyplace other than the United States? If not, is it worth spending good money to protect your brand in these regions, or anyplace else? If you do plan to do business outside of your home country, our recommendation is to consult your attorney, and develop a plan of action. While important, there is more to international trademark protection than domain name registration.