Attorney John Mlnarik
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Domain Name and Trademark Scams
It should not be a surprise that if you have a newly registered domain name, trademarked or not, you are going to be the target of some form of scam or another concerning a name dispute. Typically, the trend is an email from a foreign entity such as The Department of Asian Domain Registration Service in China claiming that some other company is trying to register your trademark in China. Posing as a foreign Intellectual Property Office, these solicitations may appear to be legitimate inquiries from companies affiliated with foreign government agencies, but a basic internet search of these services will provide you all of the information that you need to know… it is a scam. The United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) and many legitimate foreign intellectual property agencies have issued official warnings about these types of solicitations.
Many new domain owners are not aware of the laws or procedures concerning domain ownership and become targets of these types of scams believing that their brand will be diluted by not registering with these companies; or worse, that they will be the subject of a dispute with a company that has already trademarked that domain name. The bottom line is, do not respond to these emails and delete them immediately. It is likely that your email address has been harvested by data mining the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) “WHOIS” data base (a publically accessible database which publishes the details of every new registered domain name), or by reviewing the Official Gazette for Trademarks (OG) and you are receiving these emails based on this publically available information. This particular scam has been around for years and has been well documented. If you have questions or concerns it is advisable to discuss the matter with your attorney.
-Aro T. Ebenhahn, Law Clerk