If you have run your small business or non-profit organization long enough, you should have received one of the following unsolicited emails. While I'm not a lawyer, I could give you some background information on this that should help you guide your decisions:
On Feb 23, 2012, at 6:10 AM, "William" wrote:
(If you are not in charge of this please transfer this email to your President or appropriate person, thanks)
We are the department of Asian Domain registration service in china, have something to confirm with you. We formally received an application on February 17 2012. One company which self-styled "Gherl Industrial Co. Ltd" were applying to register " dispatcher" as Network Brand and following domain names:
After our initial checking, we found the 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 "Gherl Industrial Co. Ltd".
Tel:+86 2885915586 || Fax: +86 2885912116
Address:8/F XiYu building No,52 JinDun Road,QingYang District,Chengdu City, China
What's a typical motive behind someone sending you an email above?
They register a domain name with your brand, try to resell it to you for more money and possibly make easy profit.
How could someone register a domain with my name?
China is known some of the biggest intelectual property and trademark violations in the world so having you win a legal case against the sender is highly unlikely and typically not worth your money, time and effort.
What should I do in most cases?
Based on my previous experiences, it's most common that you will want to ignore these emails and mark them as spam. If you're a more sizable and/or critical operation, you would want to register a trademark in the US and all other countries where you operate or plan to operate. Then based on your regisered trademark, anyone who tries to sell you your domain name and makes profit on it may be liable for up to $100,000. This is known as ‘Cybersquatting’ and trademark infringement.
In 1999, the United States Congress passed the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, which generally prohibits using a domain name containing another's trademark with an intent to profit. That law allows penalties of up to $100,000 per domain name abuse incident; anyone who in bad faith uses, sells, or tries to sell a domain name that infringes another's trademark may be fined. For more info, you may read Trademark and Domain Name Basics.
Do you have some success stories?
We had a recent case where someone tried to sell our client .com domain for a lot of money. With the help of his lawyer, we ended up getting the domain name for free because the client has previously registered a trademark exactly matching the domain name.
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