Today I received an email from a Chinese domain name registration company asking whether a certain African company had any affiliation with us (www.drumdr.com). This African company had filed an application to register drumdr. I replied immediately that there was absolutely no affiliation whatsoever.
Within two hours, I received an email from the African company informing me that they intended to pursue their efforts to register drumdr as their own.
Because they responded so quickly, I have no doubt they intend to act just as quickly on their plans.
I’m completely ignorant as to my rights on the matter. I do not want anyone else using the name I’ve worked coutless hours to make known and respected by visitors and search engines alike. What can I do?
They already had trillions of potential email addresses. What they found out by you replying is that your email address is one of the small subset of the trillions of potential email addresses they already had that actually exists and where the owner of the address is likely to respond to emails they receive from spammers. You can now expect to receive a much larger volume of spam now that they know that there is someone on the other end who might possibly read the spam emails.
Had you not answered the email then they would not know if that email address existed or not.
As an example: I already have the email address qwerty@]kjufggy.com and could send an emai to that email address. What I don’t know is whether such an email address actually exists and if it does exist then I also don’t know whether the owner would open an email from me and reply to it so as to let me know that it actually exists.
Unless they were using an email address linked to the domain name, they may have put in a bit more effort and checked the whois database, which lists a GMail address for the domain contact. My bet is that they sent an email to the GMail address, meaning that they wouldn’t have known it was associated with the domain above without a check like this. This particular operation seems like a more deliberate scam than just pulling addresses from a database.
I had one of these a while ago, also from somebody in China - purporting to be the Asian equivalent of Nominet, if I remember correctly. I have the .co.uk version of a domain, and they claimed to be obliged to offer me first refusal on the various Asian TLD versions, before these were taken by a “rival” company which wanted them and the .com and … well, you get the picture. Bottom line - I’m supposed to fall for this and send them lots of money for these domains to protect my brand.
In this particular instance, it was easy to spot from the beginning that it was a scam. My .co.uk belongs to a very small, very local group. There is not even the most remote chance that any Asian business is ever going to want to trade under that name.
But, unfortunately, there’s a lot of this kind of thing about.
Based on my own experience of this scam, I believe that, for a given domain, they send their emails to names such as info, sales, admin, feedback, and all the other generic-sounding names. Many companies use those names, and many more have their mail servers set up so that any mail to an unknown person goes to a catch-all account. So most of the time, the messages will get through.
I would add that I’ve been receiving these Chinese messages for several years now. I’ve always ignored them, and so far the sky hasn’t fallen in.
We’ve seen this multiple times for several domains we own and I’m not entirely convinced it’s a scam, at least not how it panned out for us.
The OP’s situation seems more blatant than what we have seen.
On two occasions a few years apart I went ahead and bit just to see where it would go. Figured it would make an interesting blog article if it lead anywhere. The contact info for these domains was also fairly disposable so I wasn’t worried about being spammed or anything.
Actually spoke to someone over the phone in both situations, both purportedly from China. At no point did anyone ever ask for financial information nor did they ever ask for specific registrar information nor did they try to sell me other TLD’s even. I initially thought they might be trying to scam a domain transfer or something similar. From emails and over the phone they genuinely seemed just interested in knowing of the domain/business names were trademarked, which they were, and they were clear that their policies wouldn’t allow existing trademarked names to be registered if the China or other TLD’s are available.
That in itself could be the scam I suppose. Possibly they are trolling for unregistered trademarks to blackmail the site owners with. Still seems a reach IMO.
Anyway, the whole purpose and intent is still unclear to me. Seems like an obvious scam on the surface, but I wasn’t able to identify what it possibly could be. Would like to hear if anyone else has played it out to see if their experience was similar. Obviously don’t do it unless you are very comfortable possibly dealing with a scam or criminal organization on the other end.
That’s very interesting, Jestep. It does make you wonder what the point of it is. Based on your experience, it seems not to be a scam, and yet they were clearly not trying to sell you anything either. It will be interesting to see if anyone else here has had any experience with it.
Maybe being nice over the phone is a brilliant tactic to confuse people. I read a blog post somewhere by a guy who pretended to go ahead with sending money to one of those poor Russian girls who needed money to travel over to marry him. He messed the people around until they realised he was never going to send the money. In the end, he had a friendly chat with the guy running it, who admitted it was a scam, but that, hey, a guy’s gotta make a living.
If you’re suggesting that, just because your business name is properly registered, you don’t have to worry about people registering a domain name that is similar to yours, that’s simply not true. In most cases, there’s no requirement for anyone to prove ownership of company names, brands, trade marks, etc. in order to register a name (there are some exceptions to this). And in any case, your company name or brand isn’t necessary unique across the world.
But this doesn’t affect the underlying point of this thread, which is that emails purporting to come from the Chinese registrar should be ignored.
Thanks Mike for letting me know about this concern. I shared the same as this was happened with one of my father’s friend and he claimed with the registered documents and took legal actions and with all these formalities he won the case. People wanted to hijack but if this was so easy then people would have hijacked big gaints like Google, Microsoft as well. So probably there are government rules which every country has to follow.
You might be confusing the highjacking of domain names with passing off and imitation.
If I set up a company named, say, Microsuft, and if that company sold PC software, and if I used similar branding to Microsoft’s, I could be sued for passing off. Microsoft could justifiably claim that I was confusing the public by trying to imitate a well-established company.
But, if I set up a company named, say, the Lotus Blossom Tea Shoppe, it’s highly unlikely that the Lotus car company would be able to take action against me, even if my domain name contained the word Lotus. Even though they have registered the name Lotus in connection with their cars, that doesn’t give them a monopoly on that name.
I don’t know the situation with your father’s friend, but it’s possible that his case was similar to my Microsuft example rather than my Lotus example.
You’re right that there is a measure of regulation to prevent high-jacking of domain names, but it doesn’t go very far.