Occasionally, a client forwards me an email that they received from a purportedly Chinese domain or trademark registration authority. Three words: Scam scam scam. Unfortunately, it seems to be becoming more and more common. These scamsters basically lurk about watching for new domain names registrations and trademark filings (which are, after all, public information easily accessible online) and send emails to registrants/applicants purporting to “protect” their trademark rights or to collect “pre-registration” fees or the like. The scamsters’ emails, though sometimes containing grammatical errors, are often written fairly professionally. Below are a couple redacted examples of these emails:
Subject: Regarding“ **”Dispute
(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 November 22, 2011. one company which self-styled “Singnal Co.Ltd” were applying to register “***” 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 “Singnal Co.Ltd”.
Office:Tel: +862885915586 Fax: +862885912116
Address:12/F,Shangding international, People’s south road,WuHou District,ChengDu.China
Also beware of unsolicited invoices that look like they are collecting fees for an existing trademark application, but are nothing more that directory listing services or outright scams. These invoices are from official sounding organization names such as WIPD – World Intellectual Property Database and WOIP – Globex World Organisation Intellectual Property. The legitimate World Intellectual Property Institute (WIPO) has a list of entities identified and examples of invoices sent out by these scamsters.
If in doubt when you receive emails or invoices such as those described above, contact your IP professional for advice.