* 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. 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

  2. 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

  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. 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.

  5. 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…

  6. We received a similar email. In fact, someone replied to my inquiry! The first email had attachments that did not contain viruses – a business registration certificate and certificicate of incorporation. Here is the reply to my inquiry:

    Hallo
    I am kevin.tian . We had discussed the case about your company’s domain names. We did not receive your reply until now. If so, we will think you have given up these domain names. So we will help the third company register these domain names after 5 workdays. StarMax company will become the legal owner of these domain names in the world. We had notified you, so we are not responsible for any dispute questions about intellectual property right and trade mark after they succeed in registration. If you would like to register by yourselves, pls contact us within 5 workdays.

    Best Regards,

    Kevin.Tian
    ——————————————————————————–
    kevin.tian
    2007-11-30

    ——————————————————————————–
    发件人: LSchaldonat-Corporate
    发送时间: 2007-11-27 23:38:59
    收件人: kevin.tian@cnirc.hk
    抄送:
    主题: FW: Kenclark Domain Names

    Did your company send this or is this spoofed email? Thank you.

  7. Yeah, total scam. We received initial letters similar to those listed here. We were ‘nicer’ and subsequent replies were nicer to match. It was disturbing to read some of the other replies from them. Note that spacing and punctuation were left in tact. Ours went like this:
    ————————–
    Dear >Some CEOSome CEO<,

    Yes,you should register and protect those Domain names before “banakes corp CO”and before you success in the registration.you should do as the processe here belowe:

    1.Your company shows the proof to prove you are the holder of this brand or trademark(such as: the copy to trademark certificate, the copy of certificate of incorporation,)
    2. You fill in the application form and return it via email(scaned) or fax.
    3.We send the billhead to you.
    4. You transfer the payment to us according to the Bank information on the billhead and fax the payment proof to us.
    5. We register the domain names for you within 2 workdays after getting the payment.

    Please tell me whether you want register and protect those Domain names.
    ————————
    As someone already pointed out, there is no watchdog organization that holds up domain registration and ‘gives you a chance’ to register yourself. If its avialable, its available. This is just a simple but annoying scam

  8. I received two of these today as well, from . I am not even going to reply.

    However, I would like to know if any of you who received such messages before, can now confirm whether the domain names in .cn, .tw, .kr, .hk, etc. have actually been registered by those guys – or if it’s just an attempt to get people to pay them for registering new domains.

    Best,
    Alberto.

  9. My last message had the email address removed. I wanted to make sure that it is posted, so that people receiving email from the same person can find this thread by googling it up.

    It is: Denny.Rowe@netinchina.com.hk
    that is, denny dot rowe at netinchina.com.hk

    In the meantime, I found this message on the Internet, which is dated september 2007, reporting pretty much the same thing:

    http://www.startupnation.com/forums/7648/1/1

    and I performed a whois lookup on the domain names that the message listed as being in the process of being registered (dianalindesign.cn, etc.). It looks like nobody has actually registered them so far.

    Alberto.

  10. Pingback: Crunchy Links - December 10th 2007
  11. Eric,

    I am an it manager for an architecture firm in the US and we have received several of these. I doubt if too many people fall for this but I suspect there are a few. I appreciate your researching “Colin’s” information as his post, while very generic and not very convincing, might have given some pause.

    Please take your friends and leave, “Colin”.

    Thanks,

    Chris

  12. this is what I received from Linda
    The header:

    Return-Path:
    X-YMailISG: naL4oPIWLDtAox384gC5SN1Y1r0_W5SyEKoewbGyZDCa70x6xLcZQM3HtpM.iU64mAfBhmsGlkSH0ixq9Cs1dLkoXepuO0PapGuk2jEr_sNE7uZlRVeoz7ztXzPi9LhL2URmBd_lyLR3kIMbFM6sQ9esjrEMgmOA3cS.Nfy69HQsaKsZaylE4ykpmXdYBBopc.1OXFmqotZMtM13m5qC9.I4uqOTItGYf4t2308uquKm_OtDu0KdM2ExxmEKRDV8YTDfzNzIRTDsuB5TtRhh5wrw3VTn_dUFZhzKrTP6mhcfk23BD0KPRDM.sHb4ohgvYG1QFSf72OyxMEF2bBpIP0WcBrAlsipkNjV5ItftLlu_IevutjpSrtH40TxtjwtRPOysz7OKHCtJNzemBow6uF8exq8c9ihzNCw-
    X-Originating-IP: [218.5.79.101]
    Authentication-Results: mta446.mail.re4.yahoo.com from=ygdns.org.cn; domainkeys=neutral (no sig); from=ygdns.org.cn; dkim=neutral (no sig)
    Received: from 218.5.79.101 (EHLO 2007.vh.cnolnic.com) (218.5.79.101)
    by mta446.mail.re4.yahoo.com with SMTP; Mon, 17 Aug 2009 21:40:36 -0700
    Received: from WWW-3077F1CB261 (unknown [222.67.36.8])
    (Authenticated sender: Linda@ygdns.org.cn)
    by 2007.vh.cnolnic.com (Postfix) with ESMTP id 4B36D192B60
    The Yuancheng(China) Company want to apply the following domain names:
    pmhub.cn
    pmhub.com.cn
    pmhub.net.cn
    pmhub.org.cn
    and the Internet Trademark “pmhub”

    Because China domain names takes open registration, the domain name stays available, who registers it first, who owns it. So Yuancheng(China) Company or
    every other third party all has right to register it.

    As a domain name registrar, we have right to dispute their application. So required by China government to inform your company to protect your interest.
    As the company whose trademarks relate to the applied domain names, you will get the priority to register these domain names and internet trademark.

    If you think their registration will confuse your clients and harm your profits, we can send an dispute application form to you and help you register these within
    dispute period. This is the only way to prevent domain name grab.

    If you need, we will send your company an dispute application form to fill in and help your company remain the priority to register these names.

    Best regards!

    Linda

  13. SCAMMMMMMMMMM READ BELOW

    Dear Principal,

    We are a domain name registration and dispute organization in Asia,who mainly deal with global companies’ domain name registration and internet Intellectual property right protection in Asia.Currently we have a very important issue that we need to confirm with your company.

    On August.24,2009,We received an application formally from one company named Tian Yin Investment Co.,Ltd that wanted to applly for the Internet Trademark”abercrunk” and some domain names from our organization.

    During our preliminary investigation,we found that these domain names keyword and Internet Trademark are identical with your trademark.These days we are dealing with this case,we were wondering whether you consigned Tian Yin Investment Co.,Ltd to register these domain names with us? If it is true,we will complete the registration of these domain names.Do you know this company? Currently,we have postponed this application of this company temporarily.In order to deal with this issue better,please contact us by telephone or email as soon as possible.

    In addition,we hereby affirm that our time is limited for dissent application.If your company files no dissent within the time limit,we will unconditionally approve the application submitted by Tian Yin Investment Co.,Ltd.

    (PS:If you are not in charge of this matter,please transfer this email to appropriate dept.)
    Best Regards,

    Anita
    ——————————————————-

    Tel: 0085 2956 604 96
    Fax: 0085 2301 978 72
    Mail:Anita@cnsknet.cn
    Website: http://www.asiadm.org
    ___________________________________________________________________________

    Confidentiality Notice. This is a letter for confirmation. If the mentioned third party is your business partner or distributor in ASIA please DO NOT reply. We will automatically confirm application from your business partner after this audit procedure. We have to notify you, and our registration organization are not responsible for any dispute questions about trade mark, intellectual property nor patent after they succeed in registration. Hope you can understand! Thank you.

  14. SCAMM!!! Pls. read below:

    Dear Principal,

    We are a domain name disputed registration service company in HongKong, which mainly deal with international company’s in Asia,We have something important need to confirm with your company.

    On the 10th November,2009, we received an application formally. One company named Tianjin Holdings Limited applied for the internet keyword” nutrishine “and some domain names relevant to this trademark from our organization..

    According to our procedures and in order to protect your intellectual property rights, we need to send this email to the original company for confirming the actual relationship with this company. because that may relate to your intellectual property on internet. Now we have not finished the registration of Tianjin Holdings Limited yet, in order to deal with this issue better and not to confuse registering these domain names, please let someone who is responsible for trademark or domain name contact me as soon as possible.

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

    (PS:If you are not in charge of this matter,please transfer this email to appropriate dept.)
    Best Regards,
    jerry.Lee
    Auditing officer

    SK Holdings Company. Ltd
    Hong Kong Head Office:
    TEL: +852-9-5660 205
    FAX: +852-3-0197 872
    Email: jerry.lee@dnrcenter.hk
    jerry.lee@cnsknet.cn
    Web: http://www.sk-dns.org
    ———————————————————————————————————
    This email and any attachments may contain confidential information and is intended solely for the individual to whom it is addressed. If this email has been misdirected, please notify the author as soon as possible. If you are not the intended recipient you must not disclose, distribute, copy, print or rely on any of the information contained, and all copies must be deleted immediately.Sk holdings will not accept any liability for damage caused by computer viruses emanating from any attachment or other document supplied with this e-mail.

  15. Definitely a scam. The problem is however, when they scrape your entire site and put it up under the squatted domain name. Bluehost seems to aid these people and after a complaint, will remove the site, but keeps the parked domain page (100% indexed) with ad revenue.

  16. Another example of the Chinese domain name scam:

    from: Derek Liu
    to:
    date: Thu, Jul 1, 2010 at 12:34 AM
    subject Registration Proclamation

    (This is very urgent, Please forward this to your CEO.)

    Dear CEO,

    We are the department of Asian Domain registration service in china, have something to confirm with you. We formally received an application on July 1, 2010. one company which self-styled “West & innovations Ltd” were applying to register”clocktowerlaw” as Network Brand and following domain names:

    clocktowerlaw.asia
    clocktowerlaw.cn
    clocktowerlaw.co.in
    clocktowerlaw.com.cn
    clocktowerlaw.com.tw
    clocktowerlaw.hk
    clocktowerlaw.in
    clocktowerlaw.net.cn
    clocktowerlaw.org.cn
    clocktowerlaw.tw

    After our initial checking, we found the brand name were similar to your company’s, so we need to check with you whether your company has authorized that company to register these names. If you authorized this, we will finish the registration at once. If you did not authorize, please let us know within 7 workdays, so that we will handle this issue better. Out of the time limit we will unconditionally finish the registration for “West & innovations Ltd”.

    Best Regards,

    Derek Liu
    Senior Consultant
    Tel : (+86) 551-5223174
    Fax : (+86) 551-5223175
    Address: Room205, Block12, Youth Community(West)
    Ningguo Road, Baohe District, HeFei, China

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