You get an email or even a phone call from somebody claiming to be a domain registration agent and they may even ask for you by name. They tell you that one of their clients is wishing to register a domain name very similar to yours – or the same but with a different ending such as .cn, .tw etc but as the trademark owner you have first rights to refusal and would you like to act quickly to protect your intellectual property?
It’s a scam. What they are trying to do is to sell you a domain name that is of no use to you and in reality, there is no other company. They may try to put you under pressure and give you only minutes to make a decision. Don’t.
Lets just deconstruct this a little.
You have a company that operates solely in the UK, or the USA or wherever. Do you care that somebody in China wants to register a domain name the same as yours but with .cn on the end? I don’t think so. Does that infringe your intellectual property? No, you have in all probability not registered any trademarks in China. If this mythical company started trading in the UK under your name or a very similar name with a lookee-likee website and domain name, you could in all probability have them for passing-off, i.e. pretending to be you.
What would happen if they did register that domain name?
If they really wanted to, you wouldn’t be asked about it in the first place, they’d just do it.
Don’t allow yourself to be pressurised into protecting something that doesn’t need it
Don’t be fooled by scammers.
If you have a website, you need a domain name and for the most part this is fairly unexciting, however there are people who will try and exploit your lack of expertise.
You’ve got a designer or an agency to register your domain name, the site has been built and published and all is well. About a year later – or two, you get an official looking letter through the post reminding you that its nearly time to renew your domain and the company will do this for you and give you a really good deal if you commit for 3 years or more. Lucky you.
Well actually, no.
What’s going on here is that this company, and there are quite a few out there is actually breaking no laws – but only just. In offering to renew your domain name, you are actually transferring control to them and this may not be immediately obvious. Generally speaking, when you do this it then becomes very difficult or expensive or both to get control of your domain name back.
Not all correspondance about your domain name is fake or misleading. If you have a .co.uk domain, then Nominet is the UK body that controls [anything].uk. And depending on the registrar, they can also get in touch legitimately to ensure that the details they have are correct.
How do you avoid getting ripped off?
- Anything you get related to your domain name – check with your designer or design agency BEFORE you do anything about it. In the past I’ve been lucky and managed to prevent many of my clients from making what may be a costly mistake.
- Check the details of your registration. its easy to do go you www.easywhois.com and enter your domain name. You or your company should be shown as the registrant, your designer as the admin and billing contact and their phone number should also be shown, not yours. For certain domain types and with certain registrars your private details can be hidden, there maybe a small cost for this but not always. This is good value.
Are you being charged too much for your domain name?
If you go to a domain registrar such as www.123-reg.co.uk you can check out how much it will cost to register a domain name like yours. You could expect that your designer will add a bit to cover admin costs or that such as with webmozaic.com, it is included in the hosting package so you never actually pay directly.