* Chinese Domain Name Scam: Shanghai IDC, Gardiner Limited

Legitimate or not?

Within the last two weeks, two of Clock Tower Law Group’s clients have received email solicitations from a company in China. The company appears to be offering registered trademark owners (i.e. our clients) the chance to register certain Chinese domain names that a third party (Gardiner Limited) is supposedly trying to register.

Each of my clients thought that the email sounded suspicious and asked for my help. Is this a legitimate and clever marketing campaign? Or is it something else? I do not know the answer. I hope that by posting the emails (edited to remove the names of my clients and replacing their domains with “example”) in this article that others will find this article and provide their input in the comments.

This email arrived first:

Subject:  URGENT-Dispute of trademark / China
From:  Jet Yao <jet@govidc.com.cn>
To:  [DELETED]

Dear CEO,

We are registration service authorized by
CHINAGOV (THE DEVELOPMENT CENTER OF THE STATE
COMMISSION OFFICE FOR PUBLIC SECTOR REFORM in
China. We have something need to confirm with you. We
formally received an application. One company which called
'Gardiner Limited' is applying to register followings:

Internet brand: example

Domain Names: www.example.tw, www.example.hk,
www.example.net.cn, www.example.org.cn

After our initial examination, we found that the internet
brand being applied for is as same as your company's
name. These days we are dealing with it, hope to get the
affirmation from your company. If your company has not
authorized the aforesaid company to register these, Please
contact us as soon as possible.

In addition, we hereby affirm that our time limit for
dissent application is 15 days.  If your company files no
dissent within the time limit, we will unconditionally
approve the application submitted by "Gardiner Limited".

Best Regards,

Jet Yao
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shanghai IDC Network Information & Technology Co., Ltd
ADD:A601, Block 2, ShanghaiWithub White-cat Science Park
No.641 TianshanRoad ,Shanghai
Tel:+(86)21 5175 0322
Fax:+(86)21 5175 0301
website: www.govidc.org.cn

This email arrived second:

From: steven [mailto:steven@govidc.com.cn]
To: [DELETED]
Subject: URGENT - dispute of network domain name and trademark

Dear CEO,

We are registration service authorized by
CHINAGOV (THE DEVELOPMENT CENTER OF THE STATE
COMMISSION OFFICE FOR PUBLIC SECTOR REFORM) in
China. we have something need to confirm with you. We
formally received an application. One company which called
'Gardiner Limited' are applying to register "example" as
internet brand and CN domain names
"www.example.hk, www.example.com.hk, www.example.tw,
www.example.com.tw, www.example.net.cn, www.example.org.cn"
on Aug. 15, 2007.

After our initial examination, we found that the internet
brand applied for registration are as same as your company's
name and trademark. These days we are dealing with it, hope
to get the affirmation from your company. If your company
has not authorized the aforesaid company to register these,
Please contact us as soon as possible.

In addition, we hereby affirm that our time limit for
dissent application is 15 days.  If your company files no
dissent within the time limit, we will unconditionally
approve the application submitted by "Gardiner Limited".

Best Regards,

Steven Zhang

Sponsoring Registrar: Shanghai IDC Co.,Ltd
Address:Building 2, White-cat Science Park No.641, Tianshan
Road,Chang ning Section, Shanghai, China

Tel: +86-21-5175 0338
      +86-21-5175 0321
Fax: +86-21-5175 0301
Website: http://www.govidc.org.cn
E-mail:  steven@govidc.com.cn

I do know that there are top-level domain names for nearly 200 countries/jurisdictions, and that each country/jurisdiction has its own rules for who can register a domain name. Many registers (such as GoDaddy) can register country TLDs (top-level domains). Here is a list of domain name registries around the world with links to the registration authority for each TLD. If you want to register a foreign domain name, first check with your US domain name registrar, then check with this TLD list.


26 Replies to “* Chinese Domain Name Scam: Shanghai IDC, Gardiner Limited”

  1. Buddy of mine got one – SCAM if I ever saw one. I’m willing to bet they make money off of it but I doubt there will be any takers.

    I love Msdes, whose site is filled with cut and paste essays found elsewhere on the internet, coming by to try to smack down those who think it a scam.

    Wonder who he works for…

  2. The e-mails are not simply reminding you that the chinese variations on your domain names are availale, they are threatening you that a very specific company is now in the process of registering the name.
    First of all, this sort of trademark checking doesn’t happen. Domain names that are “available” are immediately available for purchase and there is no one “checking” to see if there is some potential trademark infringement. That is supposed to be the responsibility of the registrant.
    Further, I have received such an e-mail and posted on another forum elsewhere where countless other companies have been “threatened” that the very same company wants to register chinese variations on their domain name. Imagine that, one company wants to be in all of those diverse businesses. Honestly I can’t imagine that they can afford to “buy” up all of the domain names that they are threatening people with. In fact, I went to my domain name registrar and registered every one of the domain names that they were threatening to register for their client. They were freely available. They were not in some pending limbo held while they check out the “trademark”.
    It is a threat to make you buy the domain name from them.

  3. Gmail.cn”, the domain name for Gmail in China, has been registered by a Beijing-based company instead. Gmail is a key product of Google.

    In fact, almost all the CN domain names for Google’s such products have been registered by others.

    Launching Gmail in April 2004, Google registered “gmail.com.cn”. However, gmail.cn was registered by a Beijing-based company as early as in August 2003.

    Experts say, the time of the registration of “gmail.cn” was far earlier than the debut of Google’s Gmail, so the possibility for the CN domain name to be recovered is rather slim unless the registration was vicious.

    Months ago, Google recovered two domain names, i.e. “google.com.cn” and “google.cn” at high prices, but its troubles are far from this. It is shown at China Internet Network Information Center that the CN domain names for GoogleTalk, Google Earth, Googlelocal, etc. have all been registered by others.

    Among the investor registers, there is the far-sighted such as a Guangdong-based company, who registered “googlelocal.cn” and “googlelocal.com.cn” in March 2004, far earlier than the one-week old GoogleLocal.

    There are also others who did it after the news on Google’s redeeming the domain names with one million yuan was released. They registered “googlemap.cn” and “googleearth.cn”. The time of the registration of “googletalk.cn” and “googletalk.com.cn” was along side with the official appearance of GoogleTalk. It is really surprising that the registers could be so precise and fast.

  4. I´ve received the samy communication and my domain (domain.com) is really registrated like domain.com.cn by someone of domain govidc.com.cn

  5. My friend of mine’s company just received the same email. I agree it looks just like some other scams I have seen here.

    Even if they were legitimate wouldn’t US trademarks be protected under treaty?

    Joe

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